As you prepare to enjoy the 4th of July weekend, SSN gives you a preview of good TV to look out for in the coming weeks.
We hope you tuned in to Showtime last night for the final season premiere of Dexter and the premiere of Ray Donovan. Dexter is back in fine form as his sister Debra has quit the police force and is mentally going off the rails. This is the show’s final season and you should be on the lookout for Charlotte Rampling in upcoming episodes as a neuro-psychiatrist who knows a lot about Dexter even though he doesn’t realize who she is at first.
Ray Donovan stars Liev Schreiber as a very effective Hollywood fixer with personal problems of his own, starting with his ex-con father Mickey (Jon Voight). Ray tries to protect and take care of his family and his two brothers, Bunchy (Dash Mihok) and Terry (Eddie Marsan), but as soon as Mickey shows up in L.A., it all starts to go south. Be sure you make time each Sunday night for Dexter and Ray Donovan.
Upcoming shows we’re looking forward to:
INTERIOR THERAPY WITH JEFF LEWIS SEASON PREMIERE Tuesday – July 9th, 2013 at 9:00pm on Bravo
Reasons To Watch: Say what you will about Jeff Lewis: his OCD makes him extra-particular about everything, his eye for detail sometimes borders on the insane but the man knows how to make a home livable and beautiful. Lewis and his right-hand gal Jenni Poulos are back to help troubled couples and families with home decorating issues that also affect their relationships.
THE BRIDGE SERIES PREMIERE Wednesday – July 10th, 2013 at 10:00pm on FX
Academy Award nominee Demian Bichir (A Better Life) and Diane Kruger star in this new drama from writers Meredith Stiehm (Homeland, Cold Case) and Elwood Reid (Hawaii Five-O, Cold Case). Based on the Danish/Swedish series Bron, which was set on the border of Denmark and Sweden, The Bridge is set on the border between El Paso and Juarez. It centers on two detectives, one from the U.S., Detective Sonya Cross (Kruger), and one from Mexico, Marco Ruiz (Bichir), who must work together to hunt down a serial killer operating on both sides of the U.S.-Mexican border. The Bridge co-stars Ted Levine, Annabeth Gish, and Thomas M. Wright. Gerardo Naranjo (Miss Bala) directed the pilot.
Reasons To Watch: Bichir never gives a bad performance. We loved him as a drug kingpin on Weeds a few seasons ago and we know he’ll be equally compelling as a lawman. We also loved Stiehm’s writing on Homeland, especially the pivotal season one episode “The Weekend.” If The Bridge adheres to the FX drama brand, it will be worth watching.
ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK SERIES PREMIERE Thursday – July 11th, 2013 at 12:01am on Netflix
Reasons To Watch: Jenji Kohan (Weeds) adapted Piper Kerman’s memoir of an executive’s time in a minimum security women’s prison for drug charges. Kohan excels at writing women in unusual circumstances and combining humor and pathos. We’ve seen the first two episodes and we’re in for the run. Taylor Schilling is cast well as Piper Chapman, the yuppie gal who goes to prison for a crime she committed ten years ago. Jason Biggs plays her loving fiancée Larry, Laura Prepon is a woman from Piper’s past (no spoilers here) and look for Kate Mulgrew in a very different kind of role.
HOLLYWOOD GAME NIGHT SERIES PREMIERE Thursday – July 11th, 2013 at 10:00pm on NBC
Reasons To Watch: Jane Lynch and games! Jane Lynch hosts this fun, light show that has celebrities like Matthew Perry, Lisa Kudrow, Jason Alexander, Josh Gad, Kristin Chenoweth, Martin Short, Allison Hannigan, Kristen Bell, and Daniel Dae Kim teaming up with civilians to compete in party games.
THE NEWSROOM SEASON PREMIERE Sunday – July 14th, 2013 at 10:00pm on HBO
Reasons To Watch: This Aaron-Sorkin-penned drama is far from perfect (don’t get us started on how Sorkin writes female characters) but the combination of fast wordplay and Jeff Daniels make the show worth watching. We also think Thomas Sadowski and John Gallagher Jr. are great and we hope they both get meatier storylines this season. We also hope to see more of Jane Fonda, though we haven’t heard how many episodes she’ll turn up in during this second season.
What will you be watching? Do you have any summer TV favorites? Let us know in the comments.
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The first and most important thing you should know about Paramount Pictures’ Thor is that it’s not a laughably corny comic book adaptation. Though you might find it hokey to hear a bunch of muscled heroes talk like British royalty while walking around the American Southwest in LARP garb director Kenneth Branagh has condensed vast Marvel mythology to make an accessible straightforward fantasy epic. Like most films of its ilk I’ve got some issues with its internal logic aesthetic and dialogue but the flaws didn’t keep me from having fun with this extra dimensional adventure.
Taking notes from fellow Avenger Iron Man the story begins with an enthralling event that takes place in a remote desert but quickly jumps back in time to tell the prologue which introduces the audience to the shining kingdom of Asgard and its various champions. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) son of Odin is heir to the throne but is an arrogant overeager and ill-tempered rogue whose aggressive antics threaten a shaky truce between his people and the frost giants of Jotunheim one of the universe’s many realms. Odin (played with aristocratic boldness by Anthony Hopkins) enraged by his son’s blatant disregard of his orders to forgo an assault on their enemies after they attempt to reclaim a powerful artifact banishes the boy to a life among the mortals of Earth leaving Asgard defenseless against the treachery of Loki his mischievous “other son” who’s always felt inferior to Thor. Powerless and confused the disgraced Prince finds unlikely allies in a trio of scientists (Natalie Portman Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings) who help him reclaim his former glory and defend our world from total destruction.
Individually the make-up visual effects CGI production design and art direction are all wondrous to behold but when fused together to create larger-than-life set pieces and action sequences the collaborative result is often unharmonious. I’m not knocking the 3D presentation; unlike 2010’s genre counterpart Clash of the Titans the filmmakers had plenty of time to perfect the third dimension and there are only a few moments that make the decision to convert look like it was a bad one. It’s the unavoidable overload of visual trickery that’s to blame for the frost giants’ icy weaponized constructs and other hybrids of the production looking noticeably artificial. Though there’s some imagery to nitpick the same can’t be said of Thor’s thunderous sound design which is amped with enough wattage to power The Avengers’ headquarters for a century.
Chock full of nods to the comics the screenplay is both a strength and weakness for the film. The story is well sequenced giving the audience enough time between action scenes to grasp the characters motivations and the plot but there are tangential narrative threads that disrupt the focus of the film. Chief amongst them is the frost giants’ fore mentioned relic which is given lots of attention in the first act but has little effect on the outcome. In addition I felt that S.H.I.E.L.D. was nearly irrelevant this time around; other than introducing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye the secret security faction just gets in the way of the movie’s momentum.
While most of the comedy crashes and burns there are a few laughs to be found in the film. Most come from star Hemsworth’s charismatic portrayal of the God of Thunder. He plays up the stranger-in-a-strange-land aspect of the story with his cavalier but charming attitude and by breaking all rules of diner etiquette in a particularly funny scene with the scientists whose respective roles as love interest (Portman) friendly father figure (Skarsgaard) and POV character (Dennings) are ripped right out of a screenwriters handbook.
Though he handles the humorous moments without a problem Hemsworth struggles with some of the more dramatic scenes in the movie; the result of over-acting and too much time spent on the Australian soap opera Home and Away. Luckily he’s surrounded by a stellar supporting cast that fills the void. Most impressive is Tom Hiddleston who gives a truly humanistic performance as the jealous Loki. His arc steeped in Shakespearean tragedy (like Thor’s) drums up genuine sympathy that one rarely has for a comic book movie villain.
My grievances with the technical aspects of the production aside Branagh has succeeded in further exploring the Marvel Universe with a film that works both as a standalone superhero flick and as the next chapter in the story of The Avengers. Thor is very much a comic book film and doesn’t hide from the reputation that its predecessors have given the sub-genre or the tropes that define it. Balanced pretty evenly between “serious” and “silly ” its scope is large enough to please fans well versed in the source material but its tone is light enough to make it a mainstream hit.
As film festivals have become ubiquitous, status and distinction have become increasingly important. And no festival has the status and distinction that the Cannes International Film Festival has.
Nothing can beat the mix of midwinter sun, Cannes cachet, bonhomie, expensive sunglasses and the eclectic smorgasbord of big-bucks productions and auteur-driven independents.
The 54th edition of the film festival, which began Wednesday, doesn't disappoint.
The festival's festivities will kick off - literally - with a lavish and luscious flick, Moulin Rouge. A cancan revue, backed by the film's interior sets, will take place near Cannes' old port, starting the party, and the film's buzz should dominate the first day.
The $50 million dollar production is the first of 23 films to be entered in competition for the Palme d'Or. Moulin Rouge, starring Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor, tells the tale of doomed love between a cabaret star and a young poet. Director Baz Luhrman is no stranger to Cannes: his Strictly Ballroom screened there in 1992.
DreamWorks' much ballyhooed animated adventure film Shrek also is in the competition field. Featuring the voice talents of Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz and Eddie Murphy, Shrek is the first feature animation in 48 years to be assigned to the competition field. Shrek's showing at Cannes will be the world premiere for the film, as it doesn't open nationally in the United States until Friday, May 18.
Three other American films will vie for the coveted Palme d'Or award. Joel and Ethan Coen return to the red carpet with The Man Who Wasn't There, starring Frances McDormand (Fargo, Almost Famous) and Billy Bob Thornton (Sling Blade, Pushing Tin). Jack Nicholson stars in the Sean Penn-lensed stark mystery, The Pledge. And David Lynch returns to his dark, twisted side, with Mulholland Drive, Lynch's unique take on Los Angeles life.
Of the 18 other films in competition, ones to watch include:
Two-time Palme d'Or winner Shohei Imamura's Lukewarm Water Under The Bridge;
Iranian director Mohsen Makhmalbaf portrays the plight of Afghani women in Sun Behind The Moon;
Danis Tanovic's No Man's Land, the first entry by a Bosnian;
Acclaimed Japanese director Shinji Aoyama's Desert Moon; and
French new wave pioneer Jean-Luc Godard's Eloge de l'amour.
But not all the excitement is reserved for those in competition. American films headline the Un Certain Regard category, Cannes' second tier of films, including noted indie artist Hal Hartley's No Such Thing - a woman falls in love with a monster, set in Iceland - and the digital video project featuring Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Anniversary Party.
France and Japan also have an impressive presence in this category. The French film with the most buzz is Claire Denis' science fiction thriller, Trouble Every Day. Starring Beatrice Dalle (Betty Blue), the seemingly normal denizens of Paris are turning into cannibals.
Exploring a more current topic - and one that happens to affect most people - Japan's Kiyoshi Kurosawa releases Kairo, a computer-virus action flick. Needless to say, download the trailer to your home PC at your own risk.
Francis Ford Coppola is making a splash on the beach at Cannes, without even entering any competition. Twenty-two years after Apocalypse Now won a Palme d'Or, the movie returns, this time with 53 minutes of footage that's never been seen before.
Coppola's son Roman is following in Dad's footsteps, showing his new film C.Q. Cannes also screened last year The Virgin Suicides, directed by Coppla's daughter, Sofia.
The fortnight of film will end Sunday, May 20, with a showing of Savage Souls, by France's Raoul Ruiz.