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Thompson on Hollywood

The Fall, Del Toro's Second The Strain Installment, Earns Raves

Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan's book The Fall, the second installment of their planned trilogy which kicked off last year with The Strain, is nabbing stellar reviews. As you'd expect from Del Toro, the vampire trilogy is dark and distinctively not Twilight:
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • October 20, 2010 8:35 AM
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  • 0 Comments

Mad Men's Jaw-Dropping Season Four Finale: "A pretty girl walks by and everything's out the window."

Tim Appelo recaps Mad Men's Season Four finale (packed with Spoilers, needless to say). I am not the only one drooping with disappointment that my fave series is going into hiatus. Sigh. “A secretary is not a pet, nor an erector set,” they sang in the 1961 Robert Morse musical How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying -- but try telling that to Don Draper. In Mad Men’s jawdropper fourth-season finale, he drop-kicks his brilliant, drop-dead gorgeous girlfriend Dr. Faye Miller and pops the question to his secretary du jour, Megan –better known as “Who the hell is that?” (as Roger Sterling blurted when Don announced the engagement). Draper secretaries come and go like Spinal Tap drummers, but Megan turned a one-night stand into a giant diamond.
  • By Tim Appelo
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  • October 20, 2010 6:50 AM
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  • 0 Comments

Oscar Watch: Reeves Talks Let Me In--Not an Oscar Contender

Oscar Watch: Reeves Talks Let Me In--Not an Oscar Contender
Let Me In is one of those strange tweener movies that is neither fish nor fowl. It was a fall festival hit, but movie audiences like their movies to fit into neat and tidy categories, and this one defiantly refuses to do that. Here's why.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • October 13, 2010 10:32 AM
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  • 13 Comments

Boardwalk Empire Four Recap

Boardwalk Empire Four Recap
Boardwalk Empire Episode Four is recapped by Tim Appelo, below (SPOILER ALERT):A man’s character is his fate, and crucial characters come fatefully into focus in the fourth Boardwalk Empire (“Anastasia”). Al Capone (Stephen Graham) welcomes Jimmy (Michael Pitt) to Chicago by sneaking into a whorehouse in the wee hours, shushing Jimmy’ favorite mattressback, the Chinatown opium-loving beauty Pearl (ingénue-to-watch Emily Meade), and shooting the snoozing Jimmy in the ear. It’s a blank, but it bloodies and scares the bejesus out of Jimmy. Capone is getting even for WW I vet Jimmy’s razzing disbelief of Scarface Capone’s false claim that the Huns gave him his scar. “Lookit Mr. Solider Boy! You’d piss yer pants if you were wearin’ [any].”
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • October 11, 2010 5:00 AM
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  • 1 Comment
More: Reviews, TV, HBO

Boardwalk Empire Episode 3 Recap: Things Get Pissy

Boardwalk Empire Episode 3 Recap: Things Get Pissy
Things get nasty in Boardwalk Empire Episode Three, writes Tim Appelo in this spoiler-filled recap/review:Boardwalk Empire haters, quit yer bitchin.’ Like the train Jimmy hops in the last scene, the story builds up steam and gets rolling in Ep. 3, “Broadway Limited” (penned by Margaret Nagle with the period verve that earned her HBO FDR show Warm Springs 16 Emmy noms and 5 wins). It helps that the episode’s scariest, most lawless place isn’t some back alley or speakeasy -- it’s the doc’s office. First, the gangster too fat to die from bullets in the premiere Scorsese episode’s massacre scene gets smothered in hospital by a pillow wielded by Eli (Shea Whigham), the sheriff brother of top mobster Nucky (Steve Buscemi). Nobody wants the fat man to finger Jimmy (Michael Pitt) for the shootout.
  • By Tim Appelo
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  • October 4, 2010 5:24 AM
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  • 4 Comments
More: Reviews, TV, HBO

Boardwalk Empire Recap: Money and Relationships, Clunky Dialogue

Boardwalk Empire Recap: Money and Relationships, Clunky Dialogue
Because everyone we know is watching and debating the merits of Boardwalk Empire every week, TOH critic Tim Appelo is keeping the conversation going. He favors Tim Van Patten's slick camera moves, but worries about some clunky over-familiar dialogue. (Spoiler Alert!)Everybody made a big deal about the Scorsese-directed pilot of Boardwalk Empire, but Timothy Van Patten’s followup is in some ways better. No muzzle-flash valentines to the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre this time, but instead of endless setups and proud pans of HBO’s multimillion-dollar period set, we get some actual storylines unspooling. Last week we saw Nucky’s nooky naked; this week we get a peek at his unguarded heart. And Van Patten beats Scorsese’s bookend iris shots with the opening scene (pan down with the Chicago snow to mob boss Big Jim’s funeral) and the finale (a Baltimore flapper rolls her averted eyes and mechanically works the crankshaft of crass businessman Baxter in his Tin Lizzie – until the gory, half-dead survivor of the first episode’s massacre staggers zombielike out of the woods and into their headlamps). And Van Patten’s old-time movie moves work as well as Scorsese’s: I like the wipe from the closeup of Capone stomping reporter Eddie Corrigan’s face to Nucky at his desk.
  • By Tim Appelo
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  • September 27, 2010 6:13 AM
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  • 2 Comments
More: Reviews, TV, HBO

Review: Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps is Stone in Mainstream Studio Mode

Review: Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps is Stone in Mainstream Studio Mode
Like the 1987 film, this Wall Street installment is Oliver Stone in mainstream studio mode. Sure, his political slant on the financial crisis comes through loud and clear--the son of a Wall Street broker is preaching to the choir at this point--and he uses cigar-chomping alpha male Josh Brolin, who played George W. Bush in W., as this film's embodiment of Wall Street greed and villainy, Master of the Universe Bretton James. But James, who is part of a sprawling ensemble, is less fleshed-out and articulate than Douglas's Gordon Gekko in the first film. He's a caricature.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 24, 2010 12:19 PM
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  • 5 Comments

Howl Review: Doc/Drama Hybrid Misfires, Franco Soars

Howl is an ambitious and admirable film from documentarians Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman (The Times of Harvey Milk). The filmmakers started out trying to make a documentary, but wanted to be able to show poet Allen Ginsberg as a young man, delivering the searing, profane classic poem “Howl” in 1955. They workshopped the movie at various Sundance labs, but the transition from doc to dramatic feature is an awkward one. The documentarians fell into the trap of trying to make everything based on real life, including the “Howl” obscenity trial that made Ginsberg famous—but putting well-known actors Bob Balaban, David Straithairn and Jon Hamm, skilled as they are, into the courtroom just serves to underscore its inauthenticity.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 24, 2010 11:23 AM
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  • 0 Comments

The Social Network Update and Review

The Social Network Update and Review
Given the way things pile on now, you've already read more than you want to know about a movie you are dying to see, David Fincher's The Social Network. Some of you will go to the New York Film Festival September 24; others will wait until it opens October 1.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 21, 2010 3:10 AM
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  • 6 Comments

Salon The Town Review Attacks Affleck for Celebrity Malaise

While the rest of the world is restoring Ben Affleck to star status after his well-reviewed and well-attended The Town opening, Salon's Andrew O'Hehir is playing Armond White. He detects "troubling signs of celebrity malaise" in The Town, compared to Affleck's directorial debut Gone Baby Gone: "you can't even describe [it] as more of the same. It's less of the same." The movie is "mediocre," with plenty of "unnecessary expositional detail" in the dialogue written in part by Affleck.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 20, 2010 5:28 AM
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  • 5 Comments

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