The House


TMZ

1. "The Down and Dirty History of TMZ." How a lawyer from the San Fernando Valley created a gossip empire and transformed himself into the most feared man in Hollywood, all by breaking a few long-held rules and, as rumor has it, lording over a notorious vault full of secrets.

"Accounts of [Harvey] Levin suggest that he's driven far less by a desire for personal fame and much more by a generalized, all-encompassing hunger: to be the best, to dominate the industry, to prove his naysayers wrong. He's a man of extremes (in the '90s, he was overweight; today, he's incredibly fit, doesn't drink, sleeps four hours a night, and looks younger than his 63 years). Former employees describe him as a 'mad genius,' 'all fast-twitch muscle,' and 'like he's taking the blue pills in Bourne Identity.' And it's that metabolism and bottomless hunger that's manifested in the site: When people call it all-consuming, they're both referring to its domination of its corner of the gossip landscape and the way it dominates the lives of its employees, including Levin himself."

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TAGS: Angelo Badalamenti, comic-con, david lynch, east village, garry winogrand, harvey levin, Julee Cruise, kim's video & music, mark feeney, metropolitan museum of art, sexual harassment, the boston globe, tmz, twin peak


The Leftovers

Three minutes into "Gladys," the titular member of Guilty Remnant is dead. The episode's central event, her brutal murder, is already in the past. And in the long unwinding that follows, as the emotional, social, and political consequences of that terrible act reverberate through Mapleton and beyond, the gulf between those who need to remember the Sudden Departure and those who wish to forget it grows ever larger. "Grace period is over," Holy Wayne (Paterson Joseph) warned in the show's pilot, and though he meant to suggest the transformative power of his own charismatic presence, tonight's episode demonstrates the broader implications of his foreboding words. The chronological conceit of the series, picking up the thread of October 14th three years later, suddenly appears canny indeed. With "Gladys," an enthralling portrait of what happens when the urge to move on collides with the persistence of grief, The Leftovers joins the ranks of television's must-see dramas.

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TAGS: Amy Brenneman, ann dowd, Christopher Eccleston, gladys, Justin Theroux, liv tyler, marceline hugot, margaret qualley, recap, the leftovers


Residue

"We are all the residue of our past," Jumagul tells his grandson in the first act of Residue. The platitude sets a bland tone that this side-scrolling platformer never overcomes. While moving from checkpoint to checkpoint, you play as one of three characters: flashlight-shining Jumagul; Emilio, a boy who can jump, swim, and climb; and Nikolai, a man with a grappling hook. Controlling these characters rarely feels fluid, but Residue wants to be less about player skill and more about discovering the nuances of its story. As you pass obstacles and explore the levels, you find various documents and trigger flashbacks of a sort that provide background about the setting and characters. Unfortunately, the game's sluggish controls often distract from the seriousness of the story; watching yourself struggle with Nikolai's grappling hook is, at best, bad comedy. The worst scene amounts to the player running Jumagul and Nikolai into each other to "create" a fight, a silly section of gameplay that kills the possibility of believable drama.

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TAGS: residue, the working parts


Twin Peaks

1. "David Lynch: 'I've always loved Laura Palmer.'" Twin Peaks terrified TV audiences and made David Lynch a household name. Now, nearly 25 years later, he is returning to the scene of the crime, releasing unseen material from the movie prequel Fire Walk with Me.

"If you follow David Lynch into the woods he will not hold your hand. He cannot guarantee you will find your way home. He truly hopes that you’ll emerge unscathed. The director, painter and transcendental meditation disciple has never been one to explain his work and, on the occasion of the release of the Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery box set, no measure of nostalgia will sway him. He's sitting on a chaise longue in a hotel suite not far from his Los Angeles home when we meet, exuding charisma and an egoless confidence. At 68, Lynch looks vital, present. He's dressed in his usual uniform: dark jacket, white shirt buttoned up, a blaze of rockabilly hair atop his weatherbeaten face. "Wanna take a look?' he says, nasal, deliberate. A Blu-ray box set is on the table, containing Twin Peaks seasons one and two, Fire Walk With Me and—here's the real prize—a previously unreleased 90 minutes of deleted and extended scenes from the movie."

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TAGS: charles ponce de leon, david bowie, david lynch, happy christmas, iggy azalea, Jake Kasdan, jessie ware, joe swanberg, questlove, sex tape, share it all, susan sarandon, the roots, twin peaks, twin peaks: fire walk with me, woody allen


Homophobia

1. "Hollywood's Homophobia Is Even Worse than You Think." GLAAD's "Studio Responsibility Index" finds Hollywood fails at LGBT representation.

"One of the best features of the GLAAD study is that they not only point out what's wrong with Hollywood and the current studio approach, they give advice as to how the situation can be improved in future years. This year's study asks studios to make a real effort to include L.G.B.T. characters in genre films, specifically the hugely popular superhero film franchises. Diversity in the comics world has, of late, been growing by leaps and bounds, but it's fairly scathing indictment that the only L.G.B.T. Marvel movie character in 2013 was a cameo from real-life MSNBC anchorman Thomas Roberts in Iron Man 3. Genre Y.A.-book franchises are often a great source for L.B.G.T. diversity which is why, believe it or not, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, receives some of the highest praise from GLAAD for it's inclusion of not one, but two fully fleshed out gay fan favorites."

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TAGS: a master builder, cameron diaz, fifty shades of grey, galaxy quest, glaad, hollywood, homophobia, jordan hoffman, sex tape, stephen follows, wallace shawn


The TruthKeith Mabbut, the protagonist of Michael Palin's second novel, The Truth, represents, in this age of climate change and rampant capitalism, an updated version of the failed academic: the failed environmentalist. Like Michael Beard from Ian McEwan's Solar and Walter Bergland from Jonathan Franzen's Freedom, Mabbut is middle-aged and full of compromise. He, too, has relationship problems, and his career has failed to measure up to early potential.

One of the advantages, it seems, of the failed-environmentalist protagonist is the way an author gets to confront the character with something much larger than themselves, which both makes them feel small in comparison and forces them to accept their own limitations. In The Truth, Mabbut's foil is manifold: the destruction and ransacking of nutrient-rich geographies of India, a business of publishing, and a seemingly perfect figure whose life it is Mabbut's job to chronicle. Once a promising, award-winning environmental journalist, Mabbut now earns money by writing puff books for oil companies, like Triumph in Adversity: The Official History of the Sullom Voe Oil Terminal. He and his wife have separated, his daughter Jay has taken up with an Iranian refugee, and his son, who lives with the mother, takes a guarded approach to his father. Sickened with his hackwork, Mabbut decides to finally get serious about his planned trilogy of novels, only to get interrupted by an offer he can't refuse: the biography of Hamish Melville, a famously reclusive environmental activist. Though suspicious of the publisher's intentions (the outfit, after all, is ominously called Urgent Books), Mabbut sets off to India to find the renowned crusader.

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TAGS: freedom, ian mcewan, jonathan franzen, Michael Palin, monty python, solar, steve martin, the truth


The Judge

1. "Toronto Film Festival Lineup Announced." The festival has unveiled a first round of titles for its 2014 edition.

"The 39th Toronto International Film Festival has announced its initial slate of galas and special presentations, which includes 37 world premieres and several films with Oscar ambitions. The Judge, which stars Robert Downey Jr. as a big-city lawyer who reluctantly returns home and ends up defending his revered father (Robert Duvall) against criminal charges, will have its world premiere in Toronto. His Avengers pal, Chris Evans, will unveil his own directorial debut in Toronto, titled Before We Go. Also noteworthy: James Gandolfini's final film, The Drop, which also stars Tom Hardy and Noomi Rapace; another Jason Reitman Toronto world premiere, Men, Women and Children, starring Jennifer Garner and Adam Sandler; the Stephen Hawking biopic The Theory of Everything; and films directed by Jon Stewart and Chris Rock. Toronto made some changes this year, motivated by the increasing competition for world premieres from rival fall festivals. Since films like Foxcatcher and David Cronenberg's Maps to the Stars debuted in Cannes, they won't be slotted during the fest's first four days, which are being reserved strictly for world premieres. In recent years, the Telluride, Venice, and New York festivals had poached some big titles from Toronto, and TIFF is now making an effort to reward films that hold their premieres for the trip north. The Toronto Film Festival runs Sept. 4-14."

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TAGS: bechdel test, david ehrlich, george lucas, israel, kevin b. lee, mallory andrew, palestine, radiohead, sound on sight, star wars, the dissolve, toronto international film festival


Annie Hall

Forty-four features over 48 years. That's a lot of cinema to emerge from the mind of one man, however tireless and prolific. Woody Allen's approach to filmmaking shares more in common with the routine, unfussy diligence of the classical studio era than modern auteurism, which is to say that Allen treats his vocation less like a tortuous calling than, well, a job, something to sit down and do every day. His latest feature, Magic in the Moonlight, arrives in theaters this week, maintaining a release streak that has brought us nearly a film a year for going on five decades. Allen has a reputation for discarding each film as it passes him by, not bothering to reflect on their importance or worry about their legacies; his attentions are drawn to what's next so quickly that he hardly has time to bother with his own history. It's safe to say that Allen wouldn't have much time for a list such as this. Still, the canon cries out for rejuvenation, and so we size up another annual Allen tradition: the commemoration of his greatest hits.

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TAGS: annie hall, bananas, crimes and misdemeanors, diane keaton, gordon willis, hannah and her sisters, love and death, magic in the moonlight, manhattan, manhattan murder mystery, sleeper, the purple rose of cairo, woody allen, zelig


James Garner

1. "James Garner Dead at 86." Gene Seymour remember the film and television legend.

"He was the logical synthesis of John Wayne and Jack Benny. Interlace the Duke's measured drawl and virile swagger with Benny's comic timing and shrewd use of wordless exasperation, and you have James Garner, who died Saturday night in Los Angeles at 86. His persona: Laid-back pragmatist...or, if you needed to be a tad more provocative about it, coolly principled coward. It endeared him to generations of moviegoers and television viewers. Garner's most cherished roles shared, to varying degrees, a bent gallantry that saw little need to advertise or flaunt itself before others. In his entry on The Rockford Files—the 1974-80 TV series in which Garner played a perennially, often unjustly besieged private detective living in a trailer—Gene Sculatti's The Catalog of Cool summed up 'Gentleman Jim's beat message: Very few expenditures of energy are worth the effort. Like Zen, man.'"

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TAGS: anthony michael d'agostino, benedict cumberbatch, bernardo bertolucci, bilge ebiri, david lynch, Elaine Stritch, gene seymour, James Garner, last tango in paris, louis c.k., magic in the moonlight, me and you, sierra mannie, the imitation game, twin peaks, twin peaks: fire walk with me, woody allen


The Leftovers

If you, like me, were cautiously optimistic that "B.J. and the A.C." would replicate the focused structure and rich characterization of last week's "Two Boats and a Helicopter," a celebration of sorts is in order. "B.J.," eccentric and tersely expressive, may not yet signal a trend, but for the first time since The Leftovers premiered, I'm not simply enamored of its potential, I'm excited by its proficiency with an unorthodox brand of suburban drama, part Left Behind and part Leave It to Beaver.

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TAGS: amanda warren, Amy Brenneman, ann dowd, annie q, b.j. and the a.c., Carl Franklin, carrie coon, chris zylka, damon lindelof, elizabeth peterson, Justin Theroux, lesli linka glatter, liv tyler, recap, the leftovers






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