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MATT ZOLLER SEITZ: BOARDWALK EMPIRE season two finale

“To the Lost,” the second season finale of Boardwalk Empire, may be remembered as the moment when Boardwalk finally, finally hit its stride. This isn’t the first time the HBO drama has impressed me — even the worst episodes have had great scenes or moments — but there was something special about this one. It was dead solid perfect in almost every department. I think a lot of it comes back to the episode’s consistency of tone, and the show’s comfort with having settled on it.
  • By Matt Zoller Seitz
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  • December 12, 2011 3:25 PM
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  • 0 Comments

SLIDE SHOW: Secret agenda: 20 classic spy movies

There’s one big problem with compiling a list of great spy movies: How exactly do you define a “spy movie”? Do the spies have to be employed by a government agency? Does the action have to be international, or can it be domestic, even local? Do the characters have to engage in deception and/or information-gathering, or can they mainly be assassins, like James Bond or Jason Bourne? Is the “assassin film” its own separate genre? If movie characters have nothing to do with international politics but engage in surveillance and deception and other classic spy activities, can their story be grouped within the “spy movie” category?
  • By Matt Zoller Seitz
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  • December 9, 2011 3:17 AM
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  • 2 Comments

Press Play video series MAGIC AND LIGHT: THE FILMS OF STEVEN SPIELBERG to debut Dec. 15, 2011

Press Play is proud to announce our first video essay series in direct partnership with IndieWire: "Magic and Light: The Films of Steven Spielberg." Set to premiere Dec. 15, 2011 on this blog, this series will examine facets of Spielberg's movie career, including his stylistic evolution as a director, his depiction of violence, his interest in communication and language, his portrayal of authority and evil, and the importance of father figures -- both present and absent -- through
  • By Press Play Staff
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  • December 7, 2011 12:34 PM
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  • 6 Comments

MATT ZOLLER SEITZ: The controlled madness of AMERICAN HORROR STORY

This may be the line that Jessica Lange was born to say, in the role she was born to play, on a TV show perfectly suited to her fluttery intensity. That she delivered it over a tight shot of a ham festooned with moist pineapple slices being thrust into the camera’s lens — as if the show were being broadcast in 3-D! — made it a perfect kick-off to “Smoldering Children,” the 10th episode of the first season of American Horror Story. Written by X-Files veteran James Wong and directed by Michael Lehmann (Heathers), the hour greatly escalated the madness on this already demented show. Created by Glee executive producers Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, the series seems to be inventing a new kind of horror — a 21st-century, short-attention-span-theater version, with no lulls. The traditional buildup to the big scare? Booooo-ring. Perhaps operating under the assumption — not unwarranted — that most viewers are watching the program on DVR or illegal download and will just fast-forward to the “good parts” anyhow, they’ve decided to save us all the bother. Every few seconds there’s a fabulously bitchy one-liner, a grim bit of exposition or a surprisingly deft transition between the two, or a beating or stabbing or disembowelment or horrendous searing of flesh, or a faintly S&M-dungeon-flavored sex scene, or a revelation that a character you thought was alive was actually dead all along, or that the heroine has been impregnated by both her husband and by a black-rubber-suited spectral hunk and is carrying both of their children.
  • By Matt Zoller Seitz
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  • December 6, 2011 11:29 PM
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MATT ZOLLER SEITZ: TV’s unconscionable spectacle

The scariest, most disgusting show on television isn’t American Horror Story. It’s Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Bravo’s unscripted series offers that horror movie gimmick of showing you unlikable people doing ill-advised things that you can’t prevent no matter how loudly you yell or curse at the screen. But because the characters are — in the physical sense, at least — “real,” and the world-shattering plot twist at the core of this season was telegraphed to the audience long in advance, what might otherwise seem a guilty pleasure seems instead a travesty, as depraved a spectacle as anything that has ever appeared on American screens.
  • By Matt Zoller Seitz
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  • December 5, 2011 4:04 AM
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  • 0 Comments

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