If you’ve watched the Oscars for any amount of time, you’ve probably noticed some trends: The Academy likes movies about real people, preferably historically significant ones. Four of the eight Best Picture nominees are based on true stories, and four of the five Best Actor nominees are playing real people, with the fifth, Michael Keaton, playing a sort of alternate universe version of himself. They also like movies about people with physical or mental disabilities (Eddie Redmayne as Stephen Hawking being the best example this year), movies about art (Birdman, Whiplash), and performances by actors who hide their movie star looks under prosthetics (Steve Carell, acting under the shadow of Nicole Kidman’s fake nose). They also really, really like Meryl Streep.
DC Comics editor Julius Schwartz had a habit of commissioning covers first, and then telling the writer & artist of the book to work from that cover. It’s a creative approach to fiction, but not ideal for writing the news.
The Ontario Government released a list of the most popular baby names in 2014, and noted that some names seem to be inspired by popular TV shows. The Toronto Star went a step further, and wrote a story about The Netflix Effect, theorizing that baby names weren’t merely influenced by television, but specifically by TV shows streamed on Netflix. Then they attempted to back up their theory.
Dubbed the “Netflix Effect,” the names of characters from shows such as Orange is the New Black are hitting the top 100 or 150 or just making an appearance thanks to the popularity of Internet-streamed series.
Just in time for Hallowe’en comes this ominous & monstrous drone collaboration from The Bug and Earth. That’s not a teamup I’d have ever expected, but it works quite nicely.
Play liberally at spooky parties, or on the soundtrack of a serial killer movie.
Last week, the Toronto International Film Festival announced some of their big galas and premieres. There were some interesting films listed, but the real excitement came today, when they unveiled the Midnight Madness, Vanguard, Masters, and Documentary programmes. These are the films that are less likely to make headlines, but are some of the best, most interesting, and craziest movies at the festival.
Here are a few films that jumped out of the lineup so far. This is by no means definitive, and at times totally subjective and irrational. There is a reasonably possibility that some of them will not be very good.
HBO’s newest series, The Leftovers, was created by Damon Lindelof, one of the head writers on Lost. This should raise some red flags.
Lost had its moments: It set up an intriguing premise, and was great at building suspense and mystery. But the mysteries grew and grew, and the resolutions seemed farther and farther away; cliffhangers would tease at revelations, only to see the story move in a completely different direction in the next episode. I gave up midway through the second season, abandoning any hopes I would ever see anything resolved.
The Leftovers starts with a similarly mysterious premise: One day, in a Rapture-type event, people disappear. But with the series starting three years after the mass disappearance, it creates a second mystery: What has happened since the disappearance?
This is an odd sort of mystery, because the characters all know what happened during those three years; as such, The Leftovers seems largely built upon keeping things from the audience. There’s a certain amount of logic to this – while the world of The Leftovers is foreign to viewers, it’s become an everyday reality for the characters within it – but it also requires the script to avoid some obvious topics until they can be revealed in the most dramatic fashion.
A mild spoiler for the pilot follows. Except it’s not really a spoiler, as we shall soon see.
In his latest press release, Mayoral candidate Jonn Tory takes aim at Olivia Chow’s history of spending money as a politician. Matt Elliott took a good look at the accuracy of those claims, but the one thing that stood out in Tory’s release is the dreaded accusation that Olivia Chow is a Career Politician.
“Toronto needs a mayor with experience, fiscal common sense, and restraint – not a career politician who has been living off the public purse for three decades.”
Obvious Child is the story of Donna (Jenny Slate), who gets pregnant after a drunken one-night stand and, given her complete lack of financial or emotional stability, decides to have an abortion. Predictable hijinks ensue, but more interestingly, women talk about their experiences with abortions, and none of them degenerate into tearful monologues about terrifying clinics or lifelong regret. Continue reading
It’s been long time since I was excited about seeing a Michael Keaton movie. Probably since Batman Returns, which came out 22 years ago. (At some point, I remember wanting to see Multiplicity, but I don’t think I ever did; I was excited to see Out of Sight and Jackie Brown, but those are merely movies with a small bit of Michael Keaton.)
On the other hand, I usually get excited by a new film by Alejandro González Iñárritu, even if the results don’t always meet my expectations. There’s a lot I’ve liked about 21 Grams, Babel, and Biutiful, but Inarritu often piles the drama on too heavy on top of scrawny plots & characters.
All that said, I never expected to see Inarritu and Keaton in a movie together, but that’s what we get with Birdman, and it looks fascinating. Michael Keaton’s been middle-of-the-road for so long, it’s easy to forget he made some great dark comedies in the 80s – Night Shift and Beetlejuice in particular – and also did some solid dramatic work in Pacific Heights and Much Ado About Nothing.
Birdman obviously acknowledges the conceit that, yes, Keaton used to play Batman, then appears to take that in a crazy Black Swan kind of direction.
Given the many clones on Orphan Black, it’s not uncommon to get a sense of deja vu while watching the show. But the opening scene of Governed As It Were By Chance, the fourth episode of season two, conjures not another version of Tatiana Maslany, but a vision of Bryan Cranston in his underwear. Continue reading
There are many choices that need to be made when adapting a book into a TV show or movie. Some things work on the page but not on the screen, and some things simply need to be cut for time. This goes quadruple for a series of books as massive as Game of Thrones - the sheer volume of characters and subplots would render any adaptation a confusing mess. For the most part, HBO’s Game of Thrones has made a lot of smart choices, paring down the cast of characters and streamlining some of the stories. We can quibble about what has or hasn’t worked – someone like Shae gets more character development, while poor Melisandre is stripped of her complexity – but we can agree that some changes are necessary.
Having said all that, it’s hard to imagine that someone would read George R.R. Martins’ books and come to the conclusion that the audience needs to see even more rape and cruelty.