The House


Bloodborne

1. "Bloodborne and the History of Horror." For Kill Screen, David Chandler on the video game Bloodborne's influences.

"The immediate accessibility of this aesthetic, however, hardly reflects Miyazaki’s now-infamous approach to game and narrative design. Bloodborne’s grotesque exuberance borrows the shallowest trappings of gothic literature with, presumably, none of those facets that make the genre so fascinating. Stoker illuminates the apprehensions running rampant at the turn of the century through a lens of horror, and I had hoped that Bloodborne would use its aesthetic trappings to attempt something similar or at least equally ambitious. Instead, these designs prove to be so much easy fodder to be consumed by a much grander narrative when Bloodborne invokes another giant of the horror genre: H.P. Lovecraft."

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TAGS: artforum, bloodborne, cahiers du cinéma, chiseler, David Chandler, hito steyerl, imogen smith, kill screen, laura poitras, lily tomlin, ryan gosling, stéphane delorme


Tales from the Darkside: The MovieIn horror anthology movies, the probability runs high that one or more tales will be terrible. It's an affliction to which even the best films aren't immune. While narrative shifts are expected and tolerated, one bad segment can derail an audience's patience and goodwill, sending the film into a death spiral more horrific than anything depicted on screen. Filmmakers used to better their odds by limiting the number of tales being told, or better yet, by crafting their anthologies in the guise of episodic television, where the nature of the beast is measured in terms of a series rather than a single-sitting entity.

Tales from the Darkside plays both sides of this fence; before it made a beeline for the big screen, it ran for four seasons in syndication. Perhaps all that practice on TV made the filmmakers keep its three tales just about even in the quality department. Each mini-movie has the same tally of moments of greatness, grossness, and dullness, giving Tales from the Darkside: The Movie an even-handed feel. Plus, this being a horror film, viewers watching from a future point in time can enjoy spotting the newbie actors who became stars later on, and others whose stars of fame were quickly descending into obscurity.

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TAGS: arthur conan doyle, christian slater, David Johansen, Deborah Harry, goerge a. romero, james remar, julianne moore, matthew lawrence, Michael McDowell, Rae Dawn Chong, stephen king, steve buscemi, summer of 90, tales from the darkside, tales from the darkside: the movie, william hickey


Mad Men

"Lost Horizon," last night's episode of Mad Men, is all about life as a series of entrances and exits, and it aptly opens with Don (Jon Hamm) waltzing into his new office at McCann. Before he even sits down for his morning coffee, he's summoned to meet with Jim Hobart (H. Richard Greene) and Ferg Donnelly (Paul Johansson), and he's greeted as if he were a king looking over a newly conquered kingdom. When Hobart sheepishly asks Don to introduce himself as a McCann employee, a request to which the ad man suavely obliges, the McCann head reacts as if Don were Marilyn Monroe singing him "Happy Birthday." And yet when Hamm's "white whale"—a Moby Dick reference with some rather dark implications—arrives at a meeting wherein Miller considers introducing a "diet beer" into the marketplace, he finds that he's just one of a slew of creative directors who have been brought in to listen to the pitch. No matter what song and dance the head honchos sold him on, he's just a cog in the machine, and this realization sets him off on a road trip. The alternatively liberating and devastating fall-outs of these sort of realizations by a handful of characters are part and parcel of what makes "Lost Horizon" feel so distinctly galvanic among Mad Men's final episodes.

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TAGS: bruce greenwood, christina hendricks, elisabeth moss, h. richard greene, john slattery, jon hamm, lost horizon, mad men, paul johansson, recap


Shades of Gray

1. "This Summer's Action Heroes Are Several Shades of Gray." Manohla Dargis and A.O. Scott on the aging stars of this summer's blockbusters.

"But nostalgia only partly explains the enduring popularity and renewed appeal of movie stars over 50. They bring gravity, craft and seasoned, relaxed professionalism to projects that otherwise might lack those qualities. When filmmakers are smart or lucky enough to cast Ms. Streep, they are almost guaranteed a memorable performance; she's money in the bank. She brings her tool kit (a United Nations of accents and so forth) along with a vivid persona and a stellar résumé, conferring weight on even the flimsiest vehicle. She can prop up bad movies and weaker younger co-stars, much like Morgan Freeman, the hardest-working senior citizen in movies. He shares that honor, if now more behind the camera than on, with the avenging auteur Clint Eastwood (84), whose reascension as a critical and popular phenomenon offers further evidence that movies are currently enjoying a different kind of senior moment."

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TAGS: a.o. scott, albert maysles, avengers: age of ultron, colleen kelsey, eric rohmer, hollywood, interview magazine, iris, Iris Apfel, jessica p. ogilvie, l.a. weekly, lucy mckeon, manohla dargis, nadja tesich, wesley morris


Game of Thrones

Niccolo Machiavelli once wrote that "It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both." A corollary to this, as taught by Game of Thrones, is that it's better to be respected than powerful, because power is nothing but a currency used by the especially clever. Considering how many people are neither feared nor loved in "Sons of the Harpy," respect is all that matters—that, and the dangerous Dangerfield-ian consequences of not getting any respect.

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TAGS: aidan gillen, carice van houten, Finn Jones, game of thrones, iain glen, ian mcelhinney, iwan rheon, jacob anderson, jerome flynn, joel fry, jonathan pryce, kerry ingram, kit harington, lena headey, Michael McElhatton, nikolaj coster-waldau, peter dinklage, recap, Roger Ashton-Griffiths, sons of the harpy, sophie turner, stephen dillane


Orphan Black

"Formalized, Complex, and Costly," President Eisenhower's description of the technological revolution that accompanied World War II and the Cold War, is an apt title for tonight's episode of Orphan Black, which hardens the narrative lacquer smeared across "Transitory Sacrifices of Crisis" by throwing its full weight behind the ties between the Castor clones (Ari Millen) and their genetic "sestras" (Tatiana Maslany). There's now no escaping the fact that the series is more or less bound to play out the curdled dramatics of the two groups chasing down their own origin stories, hemmed in all the while by Proletheans, corporate science, and military might. "Welcome to Clone Club," Cosima says to Det. Art Bell (Kevin Hanchard) early in "Formalized, Complex, and Costly," but on the evidence of the third season so far, it may be time to bid Orphan Black farewell.

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TAGS: amanda brugel, ari millen, dylan bruce, formalized complex and costly, jordan gavaris, josh vokey, kevin hanchard, kyra harper, orphan black, recap, Tatiana Maslany, zoe de grand'maison


The Visit

Though it isn't the last musical for which Fred Ebb ever wrote lyrics, The Visit, which has been in development for 15 years, marks the last new lyrics of his to be heard on Broadway, and for that the show has a ghostly finality about it. Ebb's sensibility courses through the 100-minute, intermission-less evening, from the bitter wit with which the wealthy heroine explains her fortunes ("I married very often/And I widowed very well") to sub-verbal expressions of pure love ("You, you, you/Suddenly you, you, you"). But the late lyricist's signature is most audible in the titular metaphor of one number in particular: "Yellow Shoes."

The footwear in question contrasts with the dark, shabby outfits designed by Ann Hould-Ward and worn by the denizens of the fictional European town of Brachen. The most colorful items on stage, the shoes and other yellow clothes snatched up, on credit, by the destitute townspeople showcase Ebb's talent for conveying unimaginable evil through tokens of innocence. The yellow shoes belong in the same family as Cabaret's gorilla and Roxie's chorus boys in Chicago, thrillingly theatrical representations of the spectacle of corruption. If only The Visit had been brave enough to follow such cunning cynicism through to its conclusion, this Broadway premiere might have been a triumph. As it is, The Visit, with an unobtrusive and ghostly score by John Kander, is a charmingly creepy curiosity, bolstered by a fine performance by its leading lady.

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TAGS: ann hould-ward, Chita Rivera, fred ebb, friedrich dürrenmatt, graciele daniele, japhy weideman, John Doyle, john kander, lyceum theatre, roger reese, scott pask, terrence mcnally, the visit


Charlie Hebdo

1. "It's not about Islam, it's about courage: Authors protesting Charlie Hebdo's PEN award are missing the point." Approve of the French satirists or don't—but it takes true guts to publish under the tangible threat of murder. So argues Salon's Laura Miller.

"Charlie Hebdo's humor is too crude and obvious to appeal to me, but I'm predisposed to favor anyone who takes religious authorities down a peg. Raised in the Catholic Church, I regard anti-clerical campaigns as anything but passé; my own experience suggests to me that some French Muslims might find irreverent portrayals of the prophet, however crass, to be a crowbar prying open the confining box of tradition and piety. I don't think anyone should be forced into secularism, but history tells us that this is far less of a threat than the compulsion — enforced by the state or by a more intimate community — to believe and observe. For this reason, I feel that no religion should be shielded from ridicule and satire; organized religion is always a form of power."

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TAGS: avengers: age of ultron, charlie hebdo, chris richards, film comment, filmmaker, hollywood shuffle, joss whedon, laura miller, nick cohen, nick pinkerton, pen international, robert townsend, Sean Baker, stephanie zacharek, tangerine, the village voice


Anna Kendrick

1. "Anna Kendrick on 'Pitch Perfect 2' and Not Trying Too Hard." The actress talks about her continuing adventures in musical comedy and Hollywood at large.

"'In case you can’t tell, I don’t really have a career strategy,' she said. 'My decisions are entirely based on, "Well, I’m around, and this is something that the 15-year-old me would be excited to do." 'A star without a meticulous plot to become famous and stay that way? Now that is a rare breed. In person, Ms. Kendrick, while certainly ambitious, comes across as enormously down to earth. She arrived early for breakfast, alone, wearing no makeup and a basic T-shirt and jeans. Afterward, she texted a follow-up question: 'What was the name of that reality show you said I should watch?' ('Southern Charm' on Bravo.)"

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TAGS: anna kendrick, bernie sanders, cnn, emma stone, gay marriage, hillary clinton, irrational man, joaquin phoenix, parker posey, pitch perfect 2, supreme court of the united states, woody allen, zoe quinn


Alison Bechdel

1. "Lesbian Desire, a Father's Suicide and 12 Tony Noms: Alison Bechdel on Fun Home." The dark heart of Fun Home—author Alison Bechdel's feelings of guilt over her dad's suicide—doesn't sound very Broadway. But this brilliant musical may sweep the Tonys.

"What is it like seeing her life played out on stage? 'I keep hoping someone will ask me that question, and suddenly words will appear in my mind to express the bizarre feeling of seeing it,' says Bechdel, smiling. 'But it's beyond language, it's inexpressible. It's surreal, magical, it feels deeply cathartic in some way to see this adaptation of my book which is very different to the book but also essentially the same... I keep waiting for the word to spring to mind...' She pauses, lightly shrugs. 'I don't know.' As Bechdel expressed it to The New York Times' Michael Paulson, 'I do understand that there's a difference between the play and my life, but it is a very strange and permeable boundary.' However, the stage version has illuminated some of the mystery around her father's death. 'It takes you to that moment when he kills himself and steps in front of this truck. I thought I had done that. I had been to the spot on the road where he got hit. I tried to imagine as vividly as I could what it must have been like to make that decision. But to see Michael Cerveris singing it, it gives me much more of an understanding of what it must have been like.'"

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TAGS: alison bechdel, baltimore, calum marsh, carol, fandor, film comment, fun home, gay marriage, George Armitage, miami blues, nick pinkerton, ruth bader ginsburg, supreme court of the united states, ta-nehisi coates, todd haynes







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