Doctor Who Recap Season 10, Episode 2, "Smile"

Comments Comments (...)

Doctor Who Recap: Season 10, Episode 2, "Smile"

BBC America

Doctor Who Recap: Season 10, Episode 2, "Smile"

“Smile” is the second Doctor Who episode from screenwriter and novelist Frank Cottrell-Boyce. It's a distinct improvement over the misfire of 2014's “In the Forest of the Night,” which made the mistake of reducing the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) to a passive bystander, with no role to play in the resolution of that episode's crisis. Here, the Doctor and Bill (Pearl Mackie) are at the center of the action throughout, and there's a feeling of accomplishment for them at the end that was missing from “In the Forest of the Night.” Even so, there are points where the logic of the plot is rather strained, with a final ethical quandary that comes out of nowhere.

RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap Season 9, Episode 5, "Kardashian: The Musical"

Comments Comments (...)

RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap: Season 9, Episode 5, "Kardashian: The Musical"
RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap: Season 9, Episode 5, "Kardashian: The Musical"

“This is RuPaul's best friend race!” exclaims Alexis Michelle as three or four other RuPaul's Drag Race contestants kiss and make up in the workroom. What happens when queens all get along? Producers manufacture drama, silly. And, even for a show that wears its fabrications and intentionality on its rhinestoned sleeve, the machinations start to seem just a touch mannered. Following a series of episodes that effortlessly drew personality (or lack thereof) from a cast that seems more look-oriented than personality-dependent, the fifth episode of the show's ninth season is a marked regression. And not only because I now, after all these blessed years, am forced to finally write the names of all the Kardashians, a situation for which it will take me some time to forgive Mama Ru.

The Sexy Brutale Game Review

Comments Comments (...)

The Sexy Brutale Game Review

Tequila Works

The Sexy Brutale Game Review

Reginald Sixpence totters around the Chapel, searching for something hidden in the Marquis's safe. A few rooms over, one of the manor's servants shuffles around, an act that would be innocent enough if not for the hideous gas masks he wears, or for the simple fact that in a few hours he's going to pick up the antique hunting rifle and murder Sixpence. You know this because you, Lafcadio Boone, have seen it all before, and the task set before you in The Sexy Brutale is to now figure out a way to stop it.

Maybe you've come across this Groundhog Day-like gambit before in a video game (see Majora's Mask and Ghost Trick), but the eerie intimacy of The Sexy Brutale's mansion and the game's rapid pace—a 12-hour in-game time loop that passes in 10 minutes—makes the conceit feel fresh. Each discrete area of the two-story manor has its own decor and atmosphere, from a set of security cameras in the casino to a live rehearsal in the music room. And the scenarios of each are equally unique: Willow Blue, who haunts the long hallways of the guest rooms is driven by some unseen force to commit suicide, whereas two thieves find that they're the evening's entertainment after they become trapped in an on-stage deathtrap.

Lana Del Rey and The Weeknd’s “Lust for Life” Is Utterly Cool

Comments Comments (...)

Lana Del Rey and The Weeknd’s “Lust for Life” Is Utterly Cool
Lana Del Rey and The Weeknd’s “Lust for Life” Is Utterly Cool

If “Love,” the dreamy first single from Lana Del Rey's upcoming album, Lust for Life, felt like more of the same from the soporific singer-songwriter, the newly released title track is a refreshing about-face. Opening with the sound of a motorcycle revving its engine, “Lust for Life” reprises the themes—youth, love, death, escape—of countless Del Rey songs before it: “They say only the good die young/That just ain't right/'Cause we're having too much fun,” she laments. Some '60s girl-group shoops underscore Del Rey's spoken passages, which make nods to the Angels's “My Boyfriend's Back.”

The Americans Recap Season 5, Episode 7, "The Committee on Human Rights"

Comments Comments (...)

The Americans Recap: Season 5, Episode 7, "The Committee on Human Rights"

Eric Liebowitz/FX

The Americans Recap: Season 5, Episode 7, "The Committee on Human Rights"

Directed by Matthew Rhys, this week's episode of The Americans, “The Committee on Human Rights,” begins exactly where “Crossbreed” left off. But let me begin at the end, specifically with that haunting image of Gabriel (Frank Langella) and Philip (Rhys) seated across from one another inside the former's apartment. Throughout this evocatively staged sequence that serves as a tribute to Gabriel's work throughout the years in trying to keep Philip and Elizabeth (Keri Russell) well informed and grounded, my eye kept gravitating to a patch of white unpainted wall near Gabriel's head. And my mind went to Kiyoshi Kurosawa's Pulse, a film in which people leave behind splotchy black stains—redolent of the blast shadows of Hiroshima victims—on walls when they die, or simply go missing. That blackness is a symbol of all that's inexplicable about our lives, just as the swath of unpainted wall here represents the one thing that Gabriel doesn't come clean about throughout a profound unloading of his conscience: that he kept Mischa away from Philip.

Lady Gaga Drops Derivative New Single "The Cure"

Comments Comments (...)

Lady Gaga Drops Derivative New Single "The Cure"
Lady Gaga Drops Derivative New Single "The Cure"

Lady Gaga's last album, Joanne, felt like a forgery—a misguided bid to be taken seriously. This was curious coming from an artist who once refreshingly insisted that pop need not make any apologies. Joanne wasn't the sound of a singer who'd lost herself, but of one who never knew who she was in the first place. Gaga's new surprise single, which she premiered during her performance at Coachella last night, only further calcifies that impression. With “The Cure,” she abandons the middling singer-songwriter pap of recent single “Million Reasons” and abruptly shifts gears for a tropical house rhythm complete with a sped-up vocal sample reminiscent of Justin Bieber's smash “Sorry.” The lyrics are composed of generic pop platitudes about unconditional devotion that aren't worth citing here, rendered even more forgettable by a generic hook and a lifeless vocal turn by Gaga herself. If her intention was to make us realize just how much personality she imbued Joanne with, “The Cure” is a resounding success.

Doctor Who Recap Season 10, Episode 1, "The Pilot"

Comments Comments (...)

Doctor Who Recap: Season 10, Episode 1, "The Pilot"

Simon Ridgway

Doctor Who Recap: Season 10, Episode 1, "The Pilot"

Showrunner Steven Moffat kicks off the latest season of Doctor Who with an episode ironically named “The Pilot.” The title has a double meaning: It's a perfectly reasonable, albeit bland, label for the particular adventure that the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and his friends go through here, but it also serves to emphasize that this is indeed a pilot episode, a relaunch for the series to a greater extent than any season opener since “Rose” began the modern era of Doctor Who in 2005. In place of the complex arc plotting and time-travel trickery characteristic of much of his previous work, Moffat presents a deliberately new viewer-friendly story that, as with “Rose,” follows the point of view of a fresh companion, Billie “Bill” Potts (Pearl Mackie), as she finds herself drawn into the weird world of the Doctor.

RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap Season 9, Episode 4, "Good Morning Bitches"

Comments Comments (...)

RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap: Season 9, Episode 4, "Good Morning Bitches"

VH1/Logo

RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap: Season 9, Episode 4, "Good Morning Bitches"

For whatever qualms longtime fans of RuPaul's Drag Race may have about season nine's streamlining, at least the challenges remain extraordinarily well placed. Or, as Phi Phi alleged in the embittered aftermath of All-Stars, the producers know exactly what they want and how to get it. Just as the queens are getting to that Real World zone where they've stopped being polite and started serving up realness, they're thrown into a morning-news-show challenge that forces them to slap a mealy grin on their simmering tensions. And it's more of a failure than a success, but in this context, bad TV makes for excellent TV. Or, at least, a train wreck comparable to Kathie Lee & Hoda.

The 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival

Comments Comments (...)

The 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival

Edward M. Pio Roda

The 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival

Almost by definition, any festival dedicated exclusively to the treasures, glories, and the occasional folly of the past is likely to be visited by ghosts, and the spirits of the dead are practically a staple at the TCM Classic Film Festival, which held its eighth gathering in the heart of Hollywood this past weekend. The memory of the late Debbie Reynolds, who had made several in-person appearances at TCMFF over the past eight years, was invoked through yet another screening (the festival's third) of the indisputable classic Singin' in the Rain, in which Reynolds made her first big Hollywood splash back in 1952, and at a screening of Postcards from the Edge (classic status somewhat more disputable), before which Reynolds and her daughter, Carrie Fisher, were remembered fondly by Todd Fisher, Reynolds's son.

Even though he wasn't represented at the festival on screen, Don Rickles, who passed away on April 6, the festival's opening day, couldn't be ignored. Rickles's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is located on Hollywood Boulevard across the street from the Chinese Theater complex, and as I made my way through the usual crush of tourists, desperadoes, and TCMFF pass holders toward my first screening on Thursday afternoon I wasn't surprised to see the little square of sidewalk devoted to Rickles surrounded by flowers, curious bystanders, and entertainment reporters trolling for soundbites, and even adorned by one fan's thoughtful memorial: a brand-new hockey puck.

The ghost that made its presence felt at almost every turn of this year's festival belonged, of course, to TCM's beloved host Robert Osborne, who died one month to the day before the launch of this year's festival. Osborne began his Hollywood career in the early 1950s as an actor; his highest-profile moments were uncredited, blink-and-you'll-miss-them appearances in Psycho and Spartacus. But his heart was never in it, and at the encouragement of Lucille Ball he abandoned acting and combined his love of movies and journalism to concentrate on writing and documenting Hollywood history, eventually becoming the genial, knowledgeable, silver-haired host who won the allegiance of TCM fans worldwide.

The Americans Recap Season 5, Episode 6, "Crossbreed"

Comments Comments (...)

The Americans Recap: Season 5, Episode 6, "Crossbreed"

Patrick Harbron/FX

The Americans Recap: Season 5, Episode 6, "Crossbreed"

Can you imagine The Americans without Frank Langella's Gabriel, who's emerged this season as the shoulder angel to Margo Martindale's devil-like Claudia? This much is clear: Levity will be in shorter supply. In the opening of this week's episode, “Crossbreed,” Elizabeth (Keri Russell) informs Gabriel of her almost certain belief that Alexei Morozov is trying to feed the world's hungry, to which he replies: “Just like Miss America.” Gabriel, in the moment, seems completely unperturbed by the news, concerned less with the next stage of Elizabeth's sleuthing than he is with Philip's (Matthew Rhys) mental well-being in the wake of the lab director's death. Gabriel may make room here and there for a good joke, but like the series itself for the last few episodes, he's obviously burdened by the emotional collateral damage caused by spywork. “The same as me, it's upsetting,” Elizabeth tells her handler after he asks her about Philip, and by the end of this finely detailed episode, she arrives at a place where those words come to actually feel true.