A round of “Applause” for Lady Gaga’s new single (+ album)

(image via digitalspy.com.au / Photo By Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin)

 

She has been uncharacteristically quite of late – a combination of lull between albums and time out for major hip surgery – with her only major appearance the singing of the US national anthem at a New York pride rally on 28 June this year, but all that is set to change with the exciting announcement that the artist who brought us the insanely addictive pop gems “Poker Face” and “Just Dance”, and a dress made out of meat, is set to release her third studio album, ARTPOP on 11 November.

It will be preceded by the single “Applause”, the cover for which was previewed on wwd.com, along with an extensive phone interview with Lady Gaga herself during which she had this to say about the new single:

“I’ll tell you that it is very fun. And that it’s full of happiness, because what I’m saying in the song essentially is that I live for the applause. I live for the way you cheer and scream for me. Give me that thing that I love. Put your hands up, make them touch.”

While WWD.com notes that it sounds suspiciously like she is quoting the lyrics from the song itself, it does speak to a theme that began in earnest on her first album Fame (2008) and its follow up EP, The Fame Monster (2009), albums which spoke to the artist’s love of the spotlight and her need to constantly be in bright, if demanding glare.

 

Here’s a snapshot of the Facebook announcement (courtesy of complex.com)

 

It is not a blindly slavish devotion with her music recognising both the benefits and the curse of being in the public eye.

While fame has undoubtedly given Lady Gaga and her Haus of Gaga (a creative collective based on Andy Warhols’ Factory), which includes, according to WWD.com, “van Lamsweerde and Matadin, Brandon Maxwell, the Haus fashion director, her hair and makeup artists and other artistically inclined friends”, an amazing platform on which to exercise her extensive musical talents, it has also demanded a great deal of it as she admitted announcing the release of “Applause” on 19 August this year via her Little Monsters social networking site:

ARTPOP as they pry the single from my bleeding fingers. It’s a scary thing to revisit those things underneath, the pain in your past. but all I found was raw passion.” (source: digital spy.com.au)

 

The image of the pop culture icon that accompanied the announcement of Artpop’s impending release on her Facebook page (image via hypable.com)

 

Whatever the pain involved in bringing the new album to fruition, it is also meant some profoundly satisfying collaborations for the delightfully idiosyncratic artist with ARTPOP involving some deeply profound artistic collaborations with artists such as Inez & Vinoodh, Robert Wilson, Marina Abramovic (who also recently mounted an exhibition with Jay Z), and Jeff Koons, which will be exhibited, after a fashion at an ArtRave on November 10.

It reflects the fact that Lady Gaga sees herself, according to complex.com, as “an artist first [having] previously collaborated with visual artists like Nick Knight, Steven Klein, and Terence Koh. Photography duo Inez & Vinoodh also directed her “Yoü And I” series of fashion films and photographed her for V magazine.”

This flurry of artistic brilliance will all feed into an app that is being released with ARTPOP which promises to be “a musical and visual engineering system that combines music, art, fashion, and technology with a new interactive worldwide community.”

While the sound of the album itself is still a closely guarded secret – all Inez van Lamsweerde would say, quoted on wwd.com, was that ““It’s true Gaga. You can’t get it out of your head.” – we don’t have long to wait to find out what the next stage of this remarkable pop icon’s sound will be like.

If the art accompanying it is any guide, we’re not going to be disappointed.

Lady Gaga’s return appearance to the stage will be at MTV Video Music Awards on 25 August, six days after Applause drops. (You can now pre-order ARTPOP on the same day.) ARTPOP releases 11 November.

Here’s one of my favourite Lady Gaga tracks, “Alejandro” from her The Fame Monster EP …

 

 

Pixar set to turn its animation “Inside Out”

Inside Out artwork (© Pixar via disneybymark.com)

 

SNAPSHOT
“Pixar takes audiences on incredible journeys into extraordinary worlds: from the darkest depths of the ocean to the top of the tepui mountains in South America; from the fictional metropolis of Monstropolis to a futuristic fantasy of outer space. From director Pete Docter (Up, Monsters, Inc.) and producer Jonas Rivera (Up), the inventive new film will take you to a place that everyone knows, but no one has ever seen: the world inside the human mind.” (source: awn.com)

 

It’s not like we’re going to be able to march to the cinema tomorrow and see this but keeping that well known axiom in mind, that’s OK because some things are simply worth waiting for.

It applies to much needed holidays, time with family and friends … and Pixar movies especially those birthed by the imaginative creative mind of one Pete Docter, one of Pixar’s major talents and the man who brought the world Up (and won an Oscar for it!), which is quite possibly one of the finest movies I have ever seen, animated or otherwise.

What was so appealing about Up was the emotional depth that underpinned the whimsical tale of an old heartbroken man and a boy scout who’s so enthusiastic about life that he doesn’t realise he’s barging in where he’s not wanted, who are carried off in a house held aloft by a thousand colourful balloons to a magical world of shy, gaily-coloured bird, talking dogs and an evil threat that must be stopped.

It wasn’t simply a romping, fun adventure; it was suffused and underpinned by the sweetest, most authentic humanity possible, and it looks like Docter will carry this spirit into Inside Out, previously known as The Untitled Pixar Movie That Takes You Inside the Mind.

 

Pete Docter (image via hollywoodreporter.com)

 

Scheduled now for a 19 June, 2015 release, Inside Out, which will be “told from the perspective of the emotions inside the mind of a little girl”, where “emotions such as anger, sadness, disgust and joy are the main characters” (source: hollywoodreporter.com)

Getting Inside Out exactly where they wanted it has been a challenge as Docter admitted to hollywoodreporter.com:

“Docter said the film required creating two simultaneous stories — what is happening to the girl and what is happening inside her mind. ‘One story is hard enough,’ he said. ‘This is two stories that need to talk to each other.'”

Challenging it may be, but I have every confidence that Docter and the talented team he works with will bring the world of this extraordinary little girl to life in the most emotionally-resonant, highly-imaginative way that is the Pixar hallmark.

Yes, good things are worth waiting for, but when they’re going to be this good, it’s makes the waiting a little harder than normal.

It ain’t easy or cheap being Superman [infographic]

It ain’t being green says Kermit and  nor is it easy or cheap to be one of the major cultural touchstones of the American landscape.

Not only is there angst-ridden emotional toll – though Superman has never seemed as psychologically tormented as Batman or Spiderman (and yes I know I just threw Marvel and DC characters into the one sentence) – it’s ridiculously expensive as Sarah Ang at mashable.com and artist Bob Al-Greene make clear in this clever piece.

You can read the full post here.

 

(image: Bob Al-Greene, Mashable)

 

Source: mashable.com

Now this is music #11: 5 awesome songs – Kill Paris, Cape Lion, Janelle Monáe, Ralph Myerz, Goldroom

euthman via photopin cc

 

I am not a man of half measures.

If I decide to take something on, it must be done as fully and completely as possible, or I don’t see the point in bothering at all.

While this gung ho, take-no-prisoners does get lots done, it can also mean I ended feel stressed beyond belief at the sheer number of things churning away in me, begging, nay demanding, to see the light of day.

That can include all the music I listen to, which now arrives in tsunami-like quantities thanks to this glorious social media age in which we live in which everything everywhere is immediately accessible by pretty much anyone.

The solution to all this unnecessary #firstworldproblems stress?

Why some music, of course, and here are the five songs I think will help you dance all your troubles away this week.

 

“Falling in Love Again” (feat. Marty Rod and Alma) by Kill Paris 

 

(image via gottadancedirty.com)

 

This here is some damn fine R & B funk.

LA native Kill Paris, better known as Corey Barker, who has been producing some amazing electronic music under his catchy musical moniker since he was 16, has put together an instantly addictive song that perfectly captures the giddy feeling of falling in love again with your lover after the heartbreak of thinking you have lost them.

With the stunningly talented Marty Rod and Alma onboard for vocal duties, both passionately singing of this intoxicatingly new love over a loping, bass-heavy dance beat that dips and swells at all the right places and carrie you along on this wonderful journey between two newly renewed lovers.

It’s giddy, it’s joyous, it’s celebratory and it will have you clapping along and moving your feet, caught up in the euphoria.

This is one love that won’t be ending anytime soon.

* Here’s an awesome interview with Kill Paris. Enjoy!

 

 

“Jennie” by Cape Lion

 

(image via scandipop.co.uk)

 

Jennie fairly blasts out of your speakers the first time you hear it, its sense of urgent energy given life by the impassioned vocals of Carl-Johan Svedag and Martin Wiklund and it’s sheen of bouncy, endlessly upbeat art pop.

It envelops you the moment you hear it, one of those songs that overhwlems and consumes in the best possible way.

I found myself calling out to Jennie just as enthusiastically as the Swedish duo who have released one other song before this, “You Kept Dreaming” in advance of their forthcoming EP and album.

I can help but agree with scandipop‘s passionate review of the song:

“It’s a glittering and hyper homage to the 90s. The synths have been tuned to disco house, and the vocals have been spliced and diced into an adhd warning symptom. The production is tres magnifique. That Jennie is a fool for letting go of these guys. But chances are, the resulting song is better than her anyway.”

It’s a glistening mass of distorted vocals, synth beats and frissons of emotional excitement and bound to have you yelling out this mysterious woman’s name over and over.

 

 

“Dance Apocalyptic” by Janelle Monáe 

 

(image via singersroom.com)

 

Now if this is the soundtrack for the apocalypse, any apocalypse, then bring on the zombies, aliens, mutant bug-eyed three toed sloths now please!

Rather than cower away in a dark room somewhere hoping the end of humanity will happen far away from you, I think it best that you join Janelle Monáe, an American R&B and soul musician, now and dance your way through the end of civilisation.

Or at least the one that Janelle so finely envisages and brings to dance floor-filled tub-thumping life all dressed in white in a video that looks like a gorgeous piece of conceptual art work and takes place in an alternate version of America.

It is in fact the lead piece of visuals for a short film also called The Dance Apocalyptic and an impressive way to herald the release of her album The Electric Lady which drops in September.

So let loose, get on up, and join all manner of end of times beasties in the dance to end all dances.

Let the funk begin my people!

 

 

“Take a Look at the World” (feat. Annie) by Ralph Myerz

 

(image via josepvinaixa.com)

 

It has been far too long between drinks for this Norwegian talented DJ and singer who jumped back into the zeitgeist with a vengeance in April with the beguiling, catchy ” Tube Stops and Broken Hearts”.

Now she’s back on a killer track by fellow Norwegian electronica artists Ralph Myerz, which, in the words of Annie is a “sunny travelogue – a dreamy escape from icy fjords,  snowmen and the cold north wind.  This is a sunny winter song about distant shores, beaches and parties elsewhere on the planet”. (source: popjustice.com)

What particularly thrills me about he track is that is reference Byron Bay, Australia’s most easterly point and very close to my parents’ home on the far north coast of New South Wales.

It’s a bright sunny relaxed place by the beach that is full to the brim of European travellers in the southern summer and I could easily see Annie and Ralph Myerz soaking up the sun with this joyously breezy dance track providing the perfect soundtrack.

Now if I could just get my hands on the magical car in which Annie travels the world in this clip, I’d be set!

 

 

“Only You can Show Me” (feat. Mereki Beach) by Goldroom

 

(image via soundisstyle.com)

 

Oh my lordy this is fun!

FUN … FUN … FUN!

It’s can’t-keep-the-smile-off-your-face kick up your heels fun and I can completely identify with the people in the clip who are bopping, grooving and bouncing along with the kind of unalloyed joy that only an infectious dance track like this can give you.

Goldroom aka Josh Legg, who hails from the endlessly sunny climes of Los Angeles which no doubt inspired the bright energetic “Only You can Show Me” which moves along with simple joyous abandon to the happier things in life.

I think the way that earmilk.com describes his music captures the way it feels perfectly:

“Lush as any rain forest, Goldroom produces tunes with tropical flavors and choruses that will bound to get your body grooving. Synth arrays cut through your ears as infectious beats slowly take you over. He has undoubtedly found a great combination of styles that he mashes into one. Nu-disco, indie electronic, dreamwave, you name it. “

Whatever it is, it is some of most bliss-inducing danceable fun you’ll ever have and I can’t stop listening to it..

 

 

So what tune/s got you on the dancefloor?

Comic-Con movie trailer-and-poster-palooza: Riddick, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Elysium, X-Men Days of Future Past, Zero Theorem

 

Comic-con, which has just wrapped in San Diego (18 – 21 July), is greatly loved by Hollywood.

Amid some soul-searching that the annual pop culture extravaganza has sold its soul to commercial interests, lots of Hollywood studios were on hand to show their upcoming movie fares including of course Marvel which came carrying an embarrassment of superhero riches.

Not all of the trailers shown are available online right now so where the trailer is conspicuous by its absence, I have inserted a video of the panel appearance by that particular film’s cast and crew which are in most cases, quite illuminating.

So without further ado, here are the five movies that have me really excited.

 

RIDDICK

(Warning: Red Band trailer so only watch if you don’t mind strong violence, language and sexual content)

 

(image via blogs.canoe.ca)

 

SNAPSHOT
The infamous Riddick has been left for dead on a sun-scorched planet that appears to be lifeless. Soon, however, he finds himself fighting for survival against alien predators more lethal than any human he’s encountered. The only way off is for Riddick to activate an emergency beacon and alert mercenaries who rapidly descend to the planet in search of their bounty. The first ship to arrive carries a new breed of merc, more lethal and violent, while the second is captained by a man whose pursuit of Riddick is more personal. With time running out and a storm on the horizon that no one could survive, his hunters won’t leave the planet without Riddick’s head as their trophy. (source: screen rant.com)

 

“You’re not afraid of the dark are you?”

It’s a classic tagline and the only way you can end a mother-f**king scary R-rated Riddick trailer that has our anti-hero in full, menacing flight.

Once he finally gets free of his chains, of course.

Half the fun of a Riddick movie is watching the poor unfortunate saps who think they have the better of him get their comeuppance after he has played with them, much like a cat with its prey.

It’s only a matter of time till Riddick’s playful banter, replete of course with menacing intent which is usually dismissed by those holding him captive, gives way to full on vengeful action and the tables are turned with those left alive forced to depend on him for their salvation.

In this case from a whole planet of hatching nasty beasties who are thrilled to have a buffet of naive humans, and Riddick, laid on for their eating delight.

 

 

During the Riddick panel appearance at Comic Con 2013, which included writer/director David Twohy, and actors Vin Diesel (Fast & Furious series), and Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica), Vin Diesel made it very clear that fans can expect the Riddick they have come to know and love, in all his bad ass, R-rated glory:

“When the audience wanted it rated R, we knew we didn’t have to spend $200 million to make this movie.” (source: blogs.canoe.ca)

This pronouncement – the film only cost $38 million to make allowing Diesel the sort of creative freedom a larger budget would not have provided -was greeted with enthusiastic hooting and hollering from fans, who also gave the warts-and-all trailer an enthusiastic response.

Twohy also confirmed that Riddick is the closest that the escaped convict has ever come to actually dying.

“He struggles to survive, in a way he’s an allegory for the franchise.”

It all promises the sort of no holds barred otherworldly action that we have come to expect from the Riddick franchise.

Riddick opens 6 September 2013 in USA and 12 September 2013 in Australia.

 

 

 

DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES

 

This startling image of an enraged white-painted Caesar, leader of the genetically-evolved apes who are closing to claim the mantle of most dominant species on earth was released at Comic Con 2014 (image via totalfilm.com)

 

SNAPSHOT
A growing nation of genetically evolved apes led by Caesar is threatened by a band of human survivors of the devastating virus unleashed a decade earlier.  They reach a fragile peace, but it proves short-lived, as both sides are brought to the brink of a war that will determine who will emerge as Earth’s dominant species.

 

Mankind is on the brink.

It’s been eight years since the events described in Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011), and humanity is the dominant species it once was.

Decimated by the Simian Flu, which has wiped out 90% of the human race, forcing a major rebuilding of Homo Sapien civilisation and bringing humans to a numerical parity with the apes led by Caesar , who are working to forge an egalitarian society of their own.

 

 

Naturally conflict ensues as the two groups comes up against each other, and the battle begins for control of the planet humanity once assumed would always be its unfettered, unchallenged domain.

At the Comic Con panel for the movie, which featured director Matt Reeves and actors Jason Clarke, Andy Serkis, and Keri Russell, a short sizzle reel was shown.

While the reel is live online just yet, Scott Collura provided a neat rundown of what it shows at au.ign.com:

“Times are tough for what’s left of mankind after the Simian Flu. We hear how the humans spent four years fighting the virus, and another four years fighting each other. There are gunshots. Clarke is in the forest, desperately calling out “I need to talk to Caesar!” And then we cut to a close-up of an ape’s eyes. As the camera slowly pulls back we see that it’s Caesar, a bit older from when we last saw him, with white war paint on his face and a red stripe down his brow. And behind him, other apes, all with weapons… waiting to attack. Cut to the title: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.”

In conjunction with the panel, which also detailed how Caesar has grown and matured with a wife, baby and teenage son, the film’s producers ran a clever campaign  with “… people in surgical masks and gowns were on the streets outside the convention center warning of the Simian Flu and handing out hand sanitizer (!) that bears the URL www.simianflu.com (source: Scott Collura, au.ign.com)

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes will be in cinemas in USA on 18 July 2014.

*Here you can hear from Andy Serkis who play Caesar , and one of the film’s producers, Dylan Clark, who were interviewed at Comic-Con 2013:

 

 

ELYSIUM

 

One of the two Elysium posters by artist Martin Ansin that Mondo released for Comic-Con 2013 (image via movieweb.com)

 

SNAPSHOT
In the year 2159, two classes of people exist: the very wealthy who live on a pristine man-made space station called Elysium, and the rest, who live on an overpopulated, ruined Earth. Secretary Rhodes (Jodie Foster), a hard line government official, will stop at nothing to enforce anti-immigration laws and preserve the luxurious lifestyle of the citizens of Elysium. That doesn’t stop the people of Earth from trying to get in, by any means they can. When unlucky Max (Matt Damon) is backed into a corner, he agrees to take on a daunting mission that, if successful, will not only save his life, but could bring equality to these polarized worlds.

 

The cast and crew from Elysium fronted a cheering crowd at Comic-Con’s cavernous Hall H as part of Sony’s two hour Comic Con presentation.

Present on the panel were director Neill Blomkamp (District 9) along with stars Matt Damon and Jodie Foster, and producer Simon Kinberg and the presentation began with the showing of seven minutes of unseen Elysium footage, which naturally was received with rapturous excitement by the crowd.

Matt Damon admitted he would have worked on any film Neil Blomkamp had offered him so impressed was he with his work, but even so, was still blown away when the director sent through a detailed rundown of the storytelling universe in which the film takes place prior to their meeting.

 

 

Apparently it’s typical of Bllomkamp’s approach to making his movies, and goes a long way to explain why his films are such a richly immersive experience.

Similarly impressed was Jodie Foster who admitted:

“After I saw District 9, I thought it was a perfect film.” (source: screenrant.com)

All indications are that Elysium is going to be just as perfect a movie going experience, and I can’t wait till 15 August 2013 (it opens in USA on 9 August) to what is sure to be a sci-fi masterpiece.

You can read a full rundown of what was said during the Elysium panel here.

Here’s the featurette released for Comic-Con showing Matt Damon in never-bef0re-seen action footage …

 

 

X MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST

 

Dual shot of Professor X (a melding of Patrick Stewart and James McAvoy) (image via insidemovies.ew.com)

 

SNAPSHOT
The Bryan Singer movie is based on a classic two-issue comics tale that introduces a bleak future where powerful machines subjugate and butcher the warm-blooded populace,, which leads to a desperate time-travel gamble Yes that all sounds like a rip-off of The Terminator – but X-Men comics writer Chris Claremont and artist John Byrne was published by Marvel Comics in 1981, three years before James Cameron fired-up the Skynet artificial intelligence. (source: insidemovies.ew.com)

 

I didn’t used to consider myself much of a blockbuster superhero movie fan.

I watched the occasional Batman movie, especially the grittier Christopher Nolan versions, and one or two Superman movies but largely left that genre well alone.

It wasn’t so much cinematic snobbery as simply no real interest in that particular oeuvre of storytelling.

But then along came the X-Men movies.

They were action-packed, intelligent and underpinned by an ethos that everyone is worth something, that we are all inherently equal and worth of being treated with justice and fairness, a message that resonated strongly with a gay man on the “wrong” side of the moral divide (at least as far as certain groups in society are concerned).

Ever since I first saw X-Men in 2000, I have had a considerable soft spot for a series that aims to convey a strong message as much as it wants to wow and impress, and it looks that philosophy very much underpins the upcoming X-Men Days of Future Past, a rip-roaring time travel where the stakes are very high indeed.

 

Magneto (A melding of Sir Ian McKellen and Michael Fassbender) (image via insidemovies.ew.com)

 

While the film is still shooting, director Bryan Singer, the man who has brought the franchise to the big screen despite not being familiar with the X-Men mythos when he signed on to helm the films in 1996, turned up at Comic Con along with a slew of fine acting talent from the film including Patrick Stewart, Halle Berry, James McAvoy, Ellen Page, Michael Fassbender, Ian McKellen, Jennifer Lawrence and Peter Dinklage.

He also releases these two amazing promotional posters – there is a third one now available for Wolverine – and a trailer which does not appear to have its way online just yet.

Suffice to say, if this review (see below) by the great guys at SchmoesKnow is any guide, X-Men Days of Future Past promises to be every bit as imaginative, intelligently-written and powerful as the preceding movies in the franchise.

X Men Days of Future Past opens in USA on 23 May 2014 with no dates confirmed for Australia at this time.

 

 

And here’s the full panel from Comic-Con 2013 …

 

 

 

THE ZERO THEOREM

One of the photos released at Comic-Con by Terry Gilliam showing Christoph Waltz in a street scene (image via sfx.co.uk)

 

SNAPSHOT
The Zero Theorem revolves around an eccentric and reclusive computer genius (Christoph Waltz) plagued with existential angst who works on a mysterious project aimed at discovering the purpose of existence ­or the lack thereof­ once and for all. However, it is only once he experiences the power of love and desire that he is able to understand his very reason for being. (source: sfx.co.uk)

and

Qohen Leth is an eccentric and reclusive computer genius who lives in an Orwellian corporate world and suffers from existential angst. Under the instruction of a shadowy figure known only as “Management”, Qohen works to solve the “Zero Theorem” – a mathematical formula which will finally determine whether life has any meaning. Qohen’s work in the burnt-out chapel that serves as his home is interrupted by visits from Bainsley, a seductive woman, and Bob, the teenage son of Management (source: wikipedia)

 

Terry Gilliam (Monty Python) is one of those eccentric, engimatic film makers that you know is always going to surprise you with each and every project.

From The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988) to Twelve Monkeys (1995) and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009), he has been unafraid to tell boldly idiosyncratic, highly-imaginative enthralling stories that dare to ask big questions.

They don’t always provide coherent answers but that’s half the fun.

Throwing yourself into his gloriously over the top and immersing yourself in it come what may.

 

Terry Gilliam directing the actors in the movie (image via sfx.co.uk)

 

The Zero Theorem, which filmed in Bucharest, Romania and stars Christoph Waltz, Matt Damon and Tilda Swinton, looks set to follow in these gloriously offbeat footsteps.

While little is officially known about the secrecy-shrouded project, ten minutes of the movie was shown to Comic-Con audiences at a panel fronted by the director’s daughter, producer Amy Gilliam, and  and producers Dean Zanuck and Zev Foreman, along with a short video from Gilliam (see below), where he alleged, in typically mischievous fashion, that he was being held by the film’s producers till he finished the movie, and the two photos reproduced here.

Zanuck made it clear that there is no such thing as a small project when the legendary director is involved:

“What could be deemed a small, little indie becomes an event when Terry’s involved. He does touch on themes he has in the past, but with this script and these actors and the world he creates, this is new.” (source: herocomplex.latimes.com)

There are no form release dates at this point, beyond Italy on 19 December 2013 and Russia on 2 January 2014 (according to imdb.com), and while The Zero Theorem does not yet US distribution, Gilliam has hinted that the movie could premiere at the Venice Film Festival in August.

 

 

*popwatch.ew.com has released this fantastic overview of Comic-Con 2013, which seeks to separate substance from the hype and find out what really hit the mark once the crowds had left San Diego.

Speed-ing towards the movies Gravity and 47 Ronin

 

Let me say upfront that I make no apologies whatsoever for the Speed reference in the headline.

It is after all, the movie that first drew Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves together – the less said about Speed 2 the better thank you – and one of my favourite movies of all time.

And while they haven’t been in a movie since 2006’s underrated The Lake House, I figured it was high time to bring them together in some form, and their two new movies proved the perfect way to do it.

 

 

First up we have Sandra Bullock in Alfonso Cuarón’s space thriller Gravity, in which two astronauts, Dr Ryan Stone (Bullock) and Matt Kowalsky (George Clooney) find themselves fighting for survival after space debris fatally damages their space shuttle while they’re out on a spacewalk. With air fast running out, and any communication with the authorities on earth severed, they have no choice but to depend on each other for survivial, impossible a goal though it may seem.

Cuarón wrote the script with his son Jonas, and it captures with nightmarish precision, the terror you would feel as you spin further and further into the cold, unwelcoming depths of space with only your space suit and ever-decreasing levels of oxygen between you and a painful death.

Just how well they have realised the horror of this sort of experience was brought home this week with the release of a 2 minute clip that was shot in one vertigo-inducing continuous take and released at this year’s Comic-Con.

It is astonishingly, mind-bogglingly good, and a promising portent for what will no doubt be one of the movie highlights of the year.

 

 

Meanwhile back down on earth but not really any safer is 47 Ronin‘sKeanu Reeves who plays Kai, a famed warrior who is called out of retirement to battle all manner of terrifying supernatural beasties including dragons and ghosts, in a bid to assist a “group of Ronin, led by Kuranosuke Oishi (Sanada), who seek vengeance on Lord Kira, who killed their master (Asano) and banished the group.” (source: wikipedia)

The people who come seeking his help pull the old “Help me Obi-Wan, you’re my only hope” gambit, according Kai a saviour-like status that as Cinemablend correctly points put conjures memories of Reeves as Neo in the Matrix trilogy:

“Will we ever be able to see a Keanu Reeves film that positions him as the last-ditch savior of any given race – particularly a movie that relies on kung-fu fighting techniques – without immediately calling to mind The Matrix? Not that the first full trailer for Carl Rinsch’s 47 Ronin looks like The Matrix, or that Reeves’ character, Kai, resembles Neo (though they both are three-lettered names). It’s just that when we get to the line, “We believe you are the only one who can help us,” we’re going to take the blue pill and tumble down all those old, familiar paths toward The Matrix land.”

It looks a larger than life fantasy adventure, the perfect holiday fare when all you want to do is escape reality for a little while.

This looks like just the film to do it.

47 Ronin opens in USA on 25 December 2013, and in Australia on 9 January 2014.

One of the characters poster for 47 Ronin (image via cinemablend.com)

 

If that’s not enough martial arts drama for you, Reeves is also in another karate-themed movie, Man of Tai Chi.

It’s the first directorial effort for Reeves and according to imdb tells how “a young martial artist’s unparalleled Tai Chi skills land him in a highly lucrative underworld fight club.”

Man of Tai Chi is currently showing in China, Indonesia, Singapore and the Philippines. No release dates for USA and Australia are available at this time.

While you wait for both films, here are the trailers for firstly 47 Ronin, and then Man of Tai Chi

 

 

 

Falling Skies: Review of “Strange Brew” (S3, E8)

Well might you look mighty confused Tom in an episode where we disappeared down several Alice in Wonderland-ian rabbit holes one after the other (image via geek-news.mtv.com (c) TNT)

 

Today, paraphrasing the narrative of Jesus’ birth like nobody’s business, I bring you tidings of great joy.

For unto us today is born, or rather re-born, Falling Skies‘ storytelling mojo!

Granted they did use a well worn narrative trope to regain their joie de vivre – the hero trapped in an enemy-induced virtual alternate reality (see Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Stargate SG1, Eureka etc) -but they use it well and to devastatingly poignant effect.

As “Strange Brew” opens, Tom Mason (Noah Wylie), star of Days of our Masons, wakes up in bed next to his wife Rebecca (Jennifer Ferrin) who is supposed to be long dead, the alien invasion just a bad dream, a particularly nasty nightmare.

You know, that crushing, family-ripping-apart alien invasion that wiped out most of humanity.

Yep, that one – just a very bad dream.

It’s close to Christmas, snow is falling, and Tom wistfully tells Rebecca, who is of course the very Brady Bunch-epitome of the perfect pancake-making, sons’ sports game watching mom you’d expect her to be, that he loves her.

It’s the sort of scene of domestic bliss that Tom, caught up in the cataclysm of the Espheni invasion which claimed his wife’s life, has only referred to in regretful past tense since Falling Skies started it’s narrative in media res (Latin for “in the middle of things”), paying little heed to what came before the aliens arrived, save for nostalgic snippets here and there.

But here is his pre-alien apocalypse life writ in glorious living, breathing colour, and Tom allows himself to go along with a reality he is clearly, and understandably, still clinging to in his heart.

 

Karen is naturally the one generating all this Before the Aliens Went and Screwed Things Up bliss but for a while Tom goes along with it (Image via tv.com (c) TNT)

 

Now lest you think this is going to end up all Bobby Ewing dreamed a whole season of Dallas and disappoint us greatly, rest assured it becomes fairly obvious, fairly quickly that Tom has been sucked down into an alternate reality courtesy of Karen (Jessy Schram), the nefarious human Overlord’s Inception-like scrambling around in his sub-conscious mind.

Content initially to revel in walking son Matt (Maxim Knight) to the school bus after watching son Hal (Drew Roy) drive off with his girlfriend Rita, before heading to his job as a history professor where he is up for the position of dean (Mpho Koaho), Tom soon begins to notice odd discepancies in this all-too-perfect vision of the past.

And no, we’re not talking about John Pope (Colin Cunningham) deftly playing the part of a mischievous, baiting philosophy professor who is fond of talking about Foucault’s Simulacrum (not being able to tell your dreams from reality; see even in a dream Tom is freakishly intelligent) at the drop of a hat.

Or Marina Peralta (Gloria Reubens) or Cochise (Doug Jones sans the CGI Volm face naturally) playing the part of romantically-involved colleagues discussing vacation options.

Or even Maggie (Sarah Carter) playing the part of all-too-flirty history student looking to score big, and we’re not talking perfect test scores, with her professor.

Tom accepts all these familiar faces, none of whom apart from his wife and kids were part of his pre-apocalypse life, as part and parcel of his reality.

 

Back from the dead – there’s a lot of that going in this beautifully-constructed episode – Dai (Peter Shinkoda) angrily accuses Tom of an affair with a woman he has never met, Anne Glass (Moon Bloodgood) (Image via threeifbyspace.net (c) TNT)

 

That is until … cue drum roll please … he begins to notice a dirty, scraggily homeless man played by Will Patton (Weaver normally) holding up a cardboard sign saying “THE END IS NEAR”, who keeps appearing over and over, intent of getting Tom to heed his message.

He is always led away by the same policewoman, Karen no matter where sees him, yet somehow manages to pop up again minutes later.

And everyone, and I mean everyone, from his geekish son Ben (Connor Jessup) to Anne and her husband and his work colleagues wants to know whether he wants to go to New York, Boston, Jacksonville or Chicago.

Nosy about his travel plans much?

And why the same four unconnected cities over and over and over?

But wait that’s not all, as the plot thickens to the consistency of harness goop.

Almost at the same time, he begins to receive notes, bottles of wine, text messages from a woman called Anne Glass (Moon Bloodgood) whom he has never met and yet with whom he is apparently having an affair, much to his horror since he would never cheat on his wife Rebecca, a point he makes very clearly to multiple people, all of whom seem to know a little too much about Tom’s make-believe private life.

Maybe he is tweeting too much in this Karen-induced reality?

Tom’s faux-social media habits aside, as the discrepancies mount up like dead skitters after a particularly effective rebel ambush, Tom realises that this reality is bogus just as Karen rips off a delightfully mucus-like substance saturated face mask to confront with the, ta-dah!, revelation it was all a Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz dream.

“And you were there! And Pope … and Hal … and Dai … and someone called Anne who I don’t know and wouldn’t sleep with and …”

 

“What you talkin’ about Karen?” Tom gives his best ‘Different Strokes’ look (Image via blogs.wsj.com)

 

She’d no sooner started interrogating him the old-fashioned way than Weaver, all the Mason boys and Pope storm in, rescuing him, emboldening him to point blank shoot Karen in the head, something that Tom, good virtuous faithful-to-his-wife would never do.

You guessed it! More Inception-ish behaviour.

Bam! Tom is back in Charleston, injured with son Matt looking in.

Is this real? No it’s not!

Tom rips out his drip, rushes into the war room where Weaver, Peralta and the gang are gathered around maps plotting their attack on the Espheni’s power grid.

Weaver asks Tom to confirm the city they will attack and surprise, surprise, it’s either New York, Boston, Jacksonville or Florida!

(Karen won’t give up on trying to find out which city’s grid tower the Volm and rebels intend to target, but I think makes it a little too obvious towards the end what she’s after; subtlety is not the turncoat human’s strong suit, let’s be honest.)

Wake up you’re still dreaming!

Finally emerging from this dream within a dream with a dream, and this time in the middle of one of the towers that will power the grid, Karen takes him to a great big platform, after some more menacing looks, a revelation that Anne and Alexis are dead (but are they?) and hard questions that Tom refuses to answer, to watch the grid go live.

Yes that grid that will stop the Volm jumping into the fray and possibly saving humanity.

Tom, of course, refuses to have any of that, and grabbing the nearest skitter – like fire extinguishers, there always there when you need them – and leaps off the platform using the skitter as a rather squishy landing pad.

He’s in Boston, of course, and finds himself back in his old street, in his old house where, lost in the recently dredged up memories – thank you very much Karen for reawakening the past without having a therapist on hand to talk it through: the Espheni clearly have no decent mental health policies in place – he lies down on his old marital bed to find his wife next to him.

 

There is no doubt Tom loves his wife and leaving her behind again, even if it is all a dream, is the hardest thing he had ever done (Image via tvtherapytime.tumblr.com)

 

There follows one of the most genuinely touching scenes I have witnessed in a TV show ever.

Clearly guilt-stricken over moving on from the life he once had, and with new love Anne, he finds absolution in his wife telling him “You were the love of my life … the father of my three boys … and I loved everything about our life together … now you have to leave”.

It is poignant, emotionally-resonant and a beautiful example of background exposition and character development that doesn’t have to eat the scene alive to be effective.

Falling Skies, it is true, is a show in love with the sentimental moment but this was something else – truly, deeply affectingly sad, a stark reminder of just how much the apocalypse has cost everyone.

 

Bright lights … bright lights! And if humanity doesn’t find the off switch, they’re toast …literally … as the power grid fries all organic life (image via fearnet.com)

 

Back at Charleston, Pope and Maggie fought over whether the mason boys would come back, the Mason boys rode back into town sans, of course Tom, it looked like Peralta was the mole – all circumstantial naturally, something she acknowledged in a conversation with Weaver where she asked him to be her strong right hand and not move against her as Pope was urging; Weaver naturally does the right and noble thing and doesn’t stage the expected coup – and Peralta gave the go-ahead, despite her reservations, to go blast the hell of the now active grid.

They managed to tell a lot of story and advance things nicely in the snippets of non-Tom time allocated to them, and it’s a credit to the writers, with whom I have had my issues in recent episodes, that they managed to move things along as well as they did in the time available.

While not a perfect episode, it did a brilliant job of giving us some insights into Tom’s life pre-apocalypse, the emotional demons that assail him – he obviously feels a lot of survivor’s guilt at living on and with Anne to boot when Rebecca is dead – and advancing the much-delayed storyline to what I hope and pray will be the two action-charged game-changing episodes, “Journey to Xibalba” and “Brazil”, which will round out a wildly inconsistent third season.

 

Here’s what to expect in next week’s episode …

 

 

Movie review: “The Heat”

(image via au.ibtimes.com)

 

Paul Feig, director of The Heat, 2011’s Bridesmaids, and cult TV show Freaks and Geeks (1999-2000) is a man propelled by a laudable mission – to increase the representation of strong, funny women in Hollywood films.

But it’s not just some warm and fuzzy notion of joining the pop culture suffragettes at the barricades.

He wants to present well told, engaging stories that just happen to have female leads, which are conspicuously absent in much of the fare Hollywood pumps out as he told Michael Smith of dailypress.com:

“You just have to have someone telling amazing stories that are new and give great roles to women in ways [audiences] haven’t seen before. It really comes down to the responsibility of the director and of the storyteller.”

Unfortunately The Heat is not that film.

A cobbled together collection of cliches, and well-worn tropes, all held together by a emotionally discordant sensibility that isn’t sure if it wants to be a touching buddy movie or a crass and ballsy gross out flick, its only two real strengths are Sandra Bullock as Special FBI Agent Sarah Ashburn and Melissa McCarthy as Detective Shannon Mullins who are pure comedy gold.

 

Both Bullock and McCarthy bring their comedy A game to their roles as odd couple law enforcement officials forced to work together who, yes, eventually bond (image via yourmovies.com.au)

 

With little thanks to the uneven script by Parks and Recreation scribe Katie Dipold, which frankly doesn’t know if it’s coming or going, they bring their respective characters to vivid comic life, Bullock displaying her undeniable flair for visual pratfalls and McCarthy purveying her line in crass, over the top out there characters to perfection.

While neither character is particularly likeable on their own – Bullock’s Ashburn is an emotionally repressed ex-foster child whose need to prove herself to everyone manifests as an arrogant competitiveness, and McCarthy’s Mullins is the bullying lone girl in an all boy lower middle class family with, shall we say, issues – together they bring out the best in each other.

Forced to work together in their quest to bring a major drug lord, Larkin (Taran Killam) by their respective bosses, and bringing markedly different working styles to the table – Ashburn as you might expect is a by-the-book bore in dressed down pants suits while McCarthy is a highly unorthodox street smart detective who hasn’t met a regulation she doesn’t want to rip into small, messy pieces (Murtagh and Riggs anyone?) – they are the ultimate odd couple.

At least at first glance.

As the film grinds inexorably on over two excessively long hours, joining the narrative dots with all the subtlety of thick red crayon on one of the confidential files Ashburn holds to her chest as if they’re the key to life itself, it becomes clear that Feig is trying to paint them as feminist warriors trying to make it in a man’s world, and paying a high price for doing so.

 

How do you make it in a man’s world ladies? Why by becoming far more crass and dislikable than the men around you … wait no, surely that’s not right? (image via spotlight report.net)

 

Ashburn says as much on the night they bond in a dive of a bar over shots, jukebox music and oddly intimate dancing with the mostly aged male denizens but it simply doesn’t ring true.

These characters aren’t driven, at least not in the way Dipold has written them, by a crushing need to over-impress in a testosterone thick world, although undoubtedly that dynamic is at play in the far background.

What drives them instead is a desperate need to make up for their own emotional and life skills inadequacies, in ways that they have nothing to do with gender politics and everything to do with gaping character deficiencies.

The only thing that saves either of these emotionally-damaged characters and gives any them any likability at all is Bullock and McCarthy’s ability, as a team not alone, to invest them with humanity, pathos, and a damn good line in riotously funny banter.

McCarthy particularly takes lines that shouldn’t be as funny as they are, and delivers with the sort of deadpan delivery that had me at least thinking “damn that’s funny”.

 

Yes they have bonded and are ready to take on the world one expletive laden tirade at a time (image via margaretperry.org)

 

Alas I simply didn’t laugh out loud as much as I expected or wanted to – I am a great fan of both women’s work and have been for some time – despite both women’s superlative comic skills coming to the fore all the way through.

In the end, talented and clever though they are, Bullock and McCarthy alone can’t save a movie that is utterly enthrall to Lethal Weapon-lite formulaic tropes, cardboard cutout characters and a overlong plot so lazy and unimaginative it barely bothers to move even when it really, desperately needs to.

Points to Feig for his laudable goal of bring funny talented women to the forefront, aided by Bullock and McCarthy valiant attempts to bring it to fruition, but The Heat is ultimately a lacklustre pale imitation of so many fine buddy films that have gone before it.

The feminist revolution Feig envisages may have to wait a little while longer.

 

 

Comic-Con TV trailer-palooza: Arrow, Doctor Who, True Blood, Family Guy, Husbands + more

 

As always, Comic-con, which has just wrapped in San Diego (18 – 21 July), provided an embarrassment of pop culture riches for everyone who was there, and thanks to almost instant transmission via social media, even to those of us who couldn’t make it.

There were panels galore, the usual long lines to get into them, surprise appearances (a standout being Johnny Galecki’s Star Wars-disguised entry into The Big Bang Theory presentation in Hall H), and all sorts of new posters and trailers that debuted to the faithful.

Not all of the posters and trailers are available online right now but enough of them are to give us some idea of what’s coming up for some of our favourite movies and TV shows.

I’ve selected five that have me really excited so press play, enjoy and look forward to the future …

 

ARROW

 

(image via horrornews.net)

 

 SNAPSHOT
After a violent shipwreck, billionaire playboy Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) was missing and presumed dead for five years before being discovered alive on a remote island in the Pacific. When he returns home to Starling City, his devoted mother Moira (Susanna Thompson), much-beloved sister Thea (Willa Holland), and best friend Tommy (Colin Donnell) welcome him home, but they sense Oliver has been changed by his ordeal on the island. While Oliver hides the truth about the man he’s become, he desperately wants to make amends for the actions he took as the boy he was. Most particularly, he seeks reconciliation with his former girlfriend, Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy).

As Oliver reconnects with those closest to him, he secretly creates the persona of Arrow – a vigilante – to right the wrongs of his family, fight the ills of society, and restore Starling City to its former glory. By day, Oliver plays the role of a wealthy, carefree and careless philanderer he used to be – flanked by his devoted chauffeur/bodyguard, John Diggle (David Ramsey) – while carefully concealing the secret identity he turns to under cover of darkness. However, Laurel’s father, Detective Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne), is determined to arrest the vigilante operating in his city. Meanwhile, Oliver’s own mother, Moira, knows much more about the deadly shipwreck than she has let on – and is more ruthless than he could ever imagine.
(source: splash page.mtv.com)

 

While it got off to a slightly rickety start with some strong (dark, gritty tone, powerful narrative, well -drawn characters) and some not so strong elements (almost too much information and backstory), overall it told a compelling enough story to pique quite a bit of interest … and not just from the geekarati, becoming a bone fide CW ratings success in the process.

Having made quite a splash in its first season, expectations are high for Arrow in its second season, a show which has demonstrated its ability to balance a baddy-of-the-week storyline with a wider episodic arc.

And if this season two trailer is any guide (it helpfully includes a recap of key season one plot lines), Arrow looks set to keep dazzling us with gritty, in your face, larger-than-life storytelling, lots of action, and a possible new name for Oliver who no longer wants to be known as The Hood after failing to stop The Undertaking and save the life of his best friend Tommy.

 

 

It also introduces the Black Canary storyline although producers hint that the identity of that character may not be the one people are expecting; in other words it may not be Laurel who dons the fishnets.

And Summer Glau (Firefly, Dollhouse) joins the show as villainous businesswoman Isobel Rochev, who arrives with an eye on acquiring the Queen empire, which is in turmoil thanks to its part in the devastation of Starling City, any way she can. I doubt she’ll be a match for Moira but ti will be fun watching the two of them square off against each other.

According to digitalspy.com.au, “Season two is all about Oliver’s transition from ‘Arrow’ to ‘Green Arrow’ – “It’s epic, it’s big and I hope you guys like it,” says exec Andrew Kreisberg”

The new season picks up five months after the end of the season one finale, with the premiere episode “City of Heroes” airing on Wednesday 16 October. (DVD of season 1 is released in USA on September 17.

 

 

DR WHO 50TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL

 

(image via bbc.co.uk)

 

SNAPSHOT
Doctor Who is a British science fiction television programme produced by the BBC. The programme depicts the adventures of a Time Lord—a time travelling, humanoid alien known as the Doctor. He explores the universe in his ‘TARDIS’, a sentient time-travelling space ship. Its exterior appears as a blue British police box, a common sight in Britain in 1963, when the series first aired. Along with a succession of companions, the Doctor faces a variety of foes while working to save civilisations, help ordinary people, and right wrongs. (source: wikipedia.com)

 

When Matt Smith wasn’t roaming the floor at Comic-Con in a Bart Simpson mask (see below) – he confesses to a great love of Springfield’s finest dysfunctional family – and interacting with fans who are probably now kicking themselves to learn they were talking to the eleventh doctor in the flesh, he was on a panel with current companion Jenna Coleman (Clara), showrunner Steven Moffat, producer Marcus Wilson, writer/executive producer Mark Gatiss, and David Bradley who plays actor William Hartnell, the very first Doctor, in the forthcoming TV movie documenting the creation of Doctor WhoAn Adventure in Space and Time.

The session was moderated by Scottish comedian and late night TV show host Craig Ferguson, who kept telling fans they were there to hear all about Sons of Anarchy, and asked fans to treat Bradley, who gained some infamy for his role in Games of Thrones’ much-talked about “Red Wedding” episode, as nicely as possible.

 

 

And the main topic of conversation of course was the 50th Anniversary special, the title of which has yet to be announced, which premieres in the UK and USA on 23 November 2013, and stars the eleventh doctor (Matt Smith), the tenth doctor (David Tennant) and John Hurt who will play another previously unknown incarnation of the Doctor, possibly somewhere the 8th and 9th iterations.

The trailer, which has yet to be released online by the BBC, gave some tantalising insights into what fans can expect in the much-anticipated movie with the Daleks, who first appeared in an episode on 21 December 1963, just week after the first ever episode, “An Unearthly Child”,  of Doctor Who aired on 23 November, playing a major role and forcing all the doctors to work together to save humanity.

Doctor Who executive producer Steven Moffat had this to say about the Daleks place in the special:

“The Doctor once said that you can judge a man by the quality of his enemies, so it’s fitting that for this very special episode, he should be facing the greatest enemies of all.”

Also making an appearance will be the shape-shifting Zygons, their first reappearance since they did battle with the fourth Doctor played by Tom Baker almost 40 years ago in “Terror of the Zygons” (1975).

Of course a Doctor Who anniversary special without his companions wouldn’t be special at all, so current companion Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman) and Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) will be joining in too, along with none other than Queen Elizabeth 1, played by Joanna Page (Gavin and Stacey).

It sounds like an enormously impressive undertaking and a fitting way to mark this much-loved show’s major milestone.

 

 

Also discussed was Matt Smith’s departure as the eleventh doctor – he has just been in America filming Ryan Gosling’s directorial debut, How To Catch a Monster – which will take place in the Christmas special, which is still in the process of being written with Moffat admitting he is on page 22 of the script at present.

The announcement of who will play the twelfth doctor, which has been the subject of feverish speculation, with all sorts of names being bandied about including most hilariously Miranda Hart (Yes please! Such fun!), will take place a few weeks from now by all accounts.

* I will, of course, post the official trailer when the BBC finally releases it.

 

TRUE BLOOD

 

Ture Blood (image via thebostonbazaar.com)

SNAPSHOT
True Blood is an American television drama series created and produced by Alan Ball. It is based on The Southern Vampire Mysteries series of novels by Charlaine Harris, detailing the co-existence of vampires and humans in Bon Temps, a fictional, small town in northwestern Louisiana. The series centers on the adventures of Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin), a telepathic waitress with an otherworldly quality. (source: wikipedia)

It’s going to be back to basics for the good folks of Bon Temps if Bryan Buckner has his way.

And given he is True Blood‘s showrunner, the man handed the reins to one of HBO’s jewels-in the-crown by creator Alan Ball, there’s a very good chance he will.

He had this to say about season 7 during the panel for the show which also included Rob Kazinsky (Ben/Warlow), Michael McMillian (Steve Newlin), Anna Camp (Sarah Newlin), Joe Mangianello (Alcide), Kristin Bauer van Straten (Pam), Deborah Ann Woll (Jessica), Nelsan Ellis (Lafayette), Rutina Wesley (Tara), Sam Trammell (Sam Merlotte), Ryan Kwanten (Jason Stackhouse), executive producer Brian Bruckner, and Anna Paquin (Sookie):

“I think you’re going to feel like the show is going back to its roots. We’re going to try to condense the number of stories we’re telling, make you feel like you’re coming home to Bon Temps.

“I feel like this show is ultimately about the relationship between vampires and humans. And it’s about that town. I actually want to bring [the show] in a little bit. My hope is to get all these people we love living under the umbrella of one story and one thread, and really make this a show about a small town that we’ve all come to know and love.”

 

 

But first there’s the rest of season 6 to navigate, and as the trailer above shows, there’s a lot about to go down.

For a start Sookie, not a stranger to man problems, has one doozy of a realtionship headache on her hands.

Maclyn Warlow (aka Ben Flynn, played by Rob Kazinsky), a 5500 old vampire – he was the first person turned by the mother of all vampires Lillith, and now answers to Bill, who has taken on all of Lillith’s attributes including her “god-ness” as Paquin termed it – a half vampire/half faerie who is after Sookie in a big way, and ahem, also killed her parents.

Awwwk-waaard.

 

 

She, of course wants none of it, declaring at one point that “I’d rather walk the earth as a corpse than spend another minute thinking about you” , which are pretty strong words of rejection in anyone’s language.

And yet it appears, I say appears because nothing is certain in the ADHD cut and thrust of the trailer, that Warlow is about to make her into a vampire.

That would be an extremely unlikely development but still this is True Blood, where practically anything is possible.

Hell we have vampires and faeries, werewolves and witches and gods oh my, so nothing is beyond the realm of possibility.

Governor Truman’s pogrom against the vampires continue with all sorts of experiments being conducted on the imprisoned supernatural beings including introducing a few of them to sunlight, Jason doing his best to save Jessica, and the maniacal religious fanatic Sarah Newlin (Anna Camp), who is seeking to dominate politics and the Governor continues her campaign to rid the world of vampires as if its a divinely-given holy calling.

For a wonderfully detailed roundup of what was said at the Comic-Con panel, check out Jen Trolio’s detailed rundown of what was said, at tv.com

 

FAMILY GUY

 

(image via blog.zap2it.com)

 

SNAPSHOT
It’s topical. It’s edgy. It takes political correctness, wraps it in a paper bag and leaves it flaming on Mary Whitehouse’s doorstep before ringing the doorbell and running away. Best of all, it’s twelve different kinds of funny. Family Guy is comedy for all tastes. If you don’t find it funny, there’s probably something wrong with you. Or maybe you’re just one of the people this clever little cartoon takes a pot shot at.

Come spend some time with the Griffins. Peter’s the obnoxious, befuddled father. Lois is the loving mother. Son Chris is often confused, and daughter Meg is too smart for her own good. Speaking of smart, we’ll all be in trouble if maniacal genius Stewie (the baby of the family) gets his way. Oh, and don’t forget the martini-sipping mutt, Brian. (He talks so much, you couldn’t forget him if you try.) This perfectly normal suburban family is the brainchild of mad-genius creator Seth MacFarlane. (source: tbs.com)

 

Thank the lords of irreverent satire, Family Guy has not lost one ounce of its edge.

With the comic-con trailer, which offers a five minutes snapshot of season 12 which kicks off on Fox on 29 September, offering everything from monkey to camper-than-camp gays and Meg being pushed into her burial plot by her father, it looks like the boundary pushing which has symbolised the show’s first 11 seasons will continue apace.

At the Comic-Con panel, which alas didn’t feature series creator Seth MacFarlane, who apologised via video that he couldn’t be there “shaking a thousand strange hands and being coughed on”, one of the executive producers Steve Callaghan made mention of a Family Guy / The Simpsons crossover episode in which there  “may or may not be a five-minute chicken fight between Peter and Homer.”

The panel, which also included executive producers and showrunner Rich Appel, executive producer Danny Smith and actors Mike Henry (Cleveland Brown), Patrick Warburton (Joe Swanson), Alex Borstein (Lois Griffin), and Seth Green (Chris Griffin), also hinted at the fact that a major cast member would die, prompting Green to query out loud “Is it Brian?”

By all accounts Steve Callaghan managed to keep a straight face throughout the announcement everyone in the audience to wonder if Family Guy would dare to pull a The Walking Dead or Games of Thrones stunt?

Still it’s a cartoon right? Death is surely only an episode long … or is it? (cue meaningful stare at the camera)

 

 

Good news for anyone missing Cleveland after his spinoff show was cancelled.

He’s back in Quahog with his family and will remain there for the foreseeable future, unless of course his show performs a Family Guy (or Futurama for the matter) and springs from the animated dead (OK that just sounds impossible).

One thing’s for sure, what with Stewie as Little Red Riding Hood in a promised Grimm fairy tales send up, and Chris dressing up as a condom for Halloween, it’s going to keep on offending the easily offended with glee.

As for the rest of us? We’ll be too busy laughing to notice their outrage, which is just the way we like it.

 

 

HUSBANDS

 

(image via wetpaint.com)

 

SNAPSHOT
Husbands tells the story of a newly dating couple, Cheeks and Brady. Cheeks, played by Brad Bell, is a controversial tabloid personality. Brady, played by Sean Hemeon, is a professional baseball player just recently out of the closet. After six weeks of courtship, they travel to Las Vegas in celebration of a federal amendment for marriage equality, only to wind up drunk-married to each other. Fearing that a public divorce would be devastating to the cause, they stay espoused. Alessandra Torresani plays Haley, Cheeks’ best friend, who is reluctant, but supportive of their decision (source: wikipedia)

 

Husbands has a lot going for it.

Created and written by Brad Bell and the legendary Jane Espenson, who has worked on such superlative series as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Battlestar Galactica, and currently Once Upon a Time.

Immensely talented actors in Brad Bell, Sean Hemeon and Alessandra Torresani, all of whom bring brilliant comic timing to their wonderfully-written dialogues.

And an off-the-moment message, borne not of opportunistically leveraging a major cultural issue, but of a passionate heartfelt drive to contribute to the marriage equality with stories that reflect the human side of the debate, one which is often lost in the race to extremist posturing.

It also cleverly makes use of emerging technologies, first via its own channels and the use of its own funding – series two was funded by a Kickstarter campaign that I am proud to say I contributed to – and now via CW’s new digital network CW Seed.

It is arguably the most successful web-based series to emerge in recent years and the only one to portray two openly gay actors in a normal, committed relationship.

 

Husbands the series is also a highly original series of graphic novels, now all gathered together in a beautiful hardcover volume (image via 24.media.tumblr.com)

 

Husbands, of course, made it to Comic-Con this year, holding a panel session on 19 July.

In attendance were co-creators and co-writers Jane Espenson and Brad Bell, co-stars Sean Hemeon and Alessandra Torresani, director Jeff Greenstein, and the multi-talented Amy Acker (Joss Whedon’s Much About Nothing) who will play Brady’s little talked-about – OK never talked about – long lost fiancee, whose arrival at the couple’s formal wedding ceremony, unnerves Cheeks, who is convinced that he knows nothing about the man he is now married to.

As Hemeon remarked on the panel:

“… this is the one moment where it starts getting really real.”

According to Marama Whyte at hypable.com:

“The season 3 episodes will run approximately 8 minutes each, and will come out weekly. At the panel, they announced that in addition to Amy Acker, season 3 will guest star Beth Grant (The Mindy Project, Donnie Darko), Michael Hogan (Battlestar Galactica, Teen Wolf) and Seth Green (Family Guy, Buffy).”

I can’t wait for the new content to start appearing online, and I’m thrilled that Husbands is continuing to push boundaries, both thematically and technologically.

You can watch the trailer for the next season of Husbands, which is tentatively scheduled to start on CW Seed on 15 August 2013, here.

 

 

Now I know this post is almost as big as Comic-Con itself but I have five quick trailers to share with you that I couldn’t not include.

Trust me, I tried but I couldn’t.

GAMES OF THRONES

It’s THE Water cooler show of the moment – you need not look any other further than the flurry of tweets and posts that followed the show’s infamous bloody “Red Wedding” to get a gauge of its Everest-like levels of popularity – and so naturally they were at Comic-Con too.

Then highlight of the show’s appearance was this amazing video that functions as an In Memorium for Games of Thrones‘s many, many, MANY characters who, in the words of Sam Clench of news.com.au “were stabbed, shot, burned to death or relieved of their heads in the HBO hit’s first three seasons.”

 

 

And here’s the full panel appearance by the stars and producers of Game of Thrones:

 

 

ONCE UPON A TIME

One of the great success stories of recent years in broadcast television, Once Upon a Time, made its way to Comic-Con to talk to the faithful, with  Executive Producer Zack Estrin, Sophie Lowe (Alice), Peter Gadiot (Cyrus), Michael Socha (Knave of Hearts), Emma Rigby (Queen of Hearts), and Naveen Andrews (Jafar)  at this year’s round tables.

You can read a full rundown of what was discussed via this wonderful hypable.com post.

They also debuted these two posts which are gorgeous to look at and hint at all manner of wonderful things to come in this post-modernist fairytale.

 

 

OOOOOOO

 

 

COMMUNITY

 The recently re-installed showrunner for NBC”s Little Sitcom That Could, Dan Harmon, popped into Comic -Con and sat down with tvline.com‘s Michael Ausiello to talk all things season 5.

“Among the topics discussed: an upcoming animated episode (‘I don’t think it’ll have a lick of live action’) and the Jeff-Annie attraction (I think the energy between them is where the power is’), not to mention how he’ll re-introduce Joel McHale’s character, who graduated in last season’s finale, back onto campus (‘I want him back at that table. I want him back in those hallways.’).” (source: tvline.com)

 

 

Michael Ausiello also sat down with the cast, minus Joel McHale and the departing Donald Glover.

 

 

And last but not least, here’s the full panel for Community …

 

 

FALLING SKIES

In between managing to dodge attacking Espheni aircraft, mechs and skitter, and manoeuvring their way through and around the labyrinthine machinations of Charleston politics, the cast of Falling Skies popped in to chat with both Michael Ausiello at tvline.com …

 

and hollywoodreporter.com …

 

 

HANNIBAL

And finally, NBC’s Hannibal, which has been described as “bleak, grim, brutal, and clinically gory (also, outstanding)’ by Dustin Rowles at uproxx.com, released, of all things, a gag reel that, Dustin again, has been called “amazingly, unexpectedly adorable.”

It just goes to show that no matter how bleak a show may be, that there are still laughs to be had somewhere in there.

 

 

Who’s got the nod? Dissecting the nominations for the 65th Primetime Emmy Awards

Neil Patrick Harris, affectionately known as NPH, and go to guy for awards show hosting, is back this year to host the Primetime Emmy Awards for a second time (image via studiosystemnews.com)

 

Bring me sackcloth and ashes! *

Let there be wailing and gnashing of teeth! **

And may you successfully duck as fingers point every which way while cries of “J’accuse” echo all around.

Yes another awards show has announced to the world who its favoured children are, in this case the primetime Emmys, and the predictable hue and cry over who wuz robbed, and how badly, is in full swing.

You can access the full list of nominations via emmys.com

Of course, it makes sense that the nominations provoke these sorts of responses – hey not everyone is madly in love with Mad Men or Games of Thrones, odd though that may sound – and in a way it’s all very healthy that nominations made at 5.35am in Los Angeles touch of a passionate debate mere nanoseconds later.

It shows we all care deeply about the shows that we watch religiously, or irreligiously if you’re an atheist, and bodes well for the sort of engagement these shows needs to compete in an ever more crowded digital landscape, where the options for our amusement seem to multiply as quickly as the outraged tweets at 5.36am.

Like everyone else, I had almost immediate thoughts about what should be on the list of nominations and what shouldn’t have been and naturally, I felt compelled to share them with you.

Admittedly my sackcloth and ashes are still at the cleaners, and my dentist would kill me if I even considered gently tapping my teeth, let along gnashing them in zeitgeisty anguish.

But here’s what are the three main things that sprang to mind as I pondered the nominations handed down at the ceremony on 18 July at the ceremony presided over by Aaron Paul (who deservedly was nominated once again as best supporting actor in a drama for the superlative Breaking Bad; see video below) and the host of this year’s primetime Emmys Neil Patrick Harris (subbing in at the last minute for a flight-delayed Kate Mara (House of Cards)

 

 

1. Why didn’t they send in the clones?
Yes I know you now all have the song “Send in the Clowns” mournfully dragging itself across your neurones, but what other headline would even have come close to being appropriate for discussing how it is that Orphan Black, which surely must be one of THE shows of the shows, featuring one of the most versatile talented actors I have seen in some time, Canadian Tatiana Maslany.

In case you haven’t caught up with this impressive BBC America show, it centres on a foster home-raised small time con woman, Sarah Manning, who arrives back in town to reclaim her daughter only to discover that life is a whole lot more complex than simply reasserting her custody. She encounter not one but four other women who look exactly like her though all have markedly different lives – one is a Soccer Mom, one a PhD candidate, one a badass Russian with attitude. As the plot thickens, and the conspiracy of silence unfolds she discovers that they are all clones, part of some super secret project though to what end no one is sure.

 

(image via hellogiggles.com)

 

Tatiana Maslany of course has to play all six roles, often in the same scene and each of the woman are so different, and so perfectly, fully-realised, in a plot that is deliciously complex while still being accessible, that you spend much of the show in awe of her ability to bring such different characters to life so vividly.

As Entertainment Weekly‘s Jeffrey Jenson noted on insidetv.ew.com:

“If I had an Emmy ballot, she’d be on the Best Actress list, or at least three of the Best Supporting Actress spots. Or both. She never phoned in any of her clones. They all felt remarkably realized.”

Still as Julie Miller wisely pointed out at vanityfair.com, it isn’t so much a snubbing of Tatiana Maslany as it being a case of not enough room at a very talented inn:

“If it is any consolation to Maslany, the best-actress-in-a-drama-series category was so stacked this year—Connie Britton (Nashville), Claire Danes (Homeland), Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey), Vera Farmiga (Bates Motel), Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men), Kerry Washington (Scandal), and Robin Wright (House of Cards)—that even The Good Wife’s Julianna Marguiles was shut out in the cold.”

There is a second series in the offing of this remarkable show, and with all the publicity generated by the outrage over Orphan Black and Tatiana Maslany’s omission from the nominatiions, there are bound to be far more eyeballs watching next time around.

So while the outrage is justified, there is a silver lining to the whole saga that is so bright as to be blinding.

 

 

2. Rise of the web
It’s been a much-repeated refrain for some time now that the digital revolution would profoundly change the way we enjoy our visual entertainment, and while increasing numbers of people are finding new (and old) shows to watch via streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu, and the ever-multiplying YouTube channels, this is the first time that the Emmys have acknowledged this shift in viewing habits in any obviously meaningful way.

While not everyone agrees that Netflix’s nominations for the Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright starring House of Cards (9 nominations including one for best drama), Arrested Development (3 nominations) and Hemlock Grove (2 nominations) is a signal that online TV’s moment has finally arrived – Myles McNutt argues that “Netflix is not Emmy’s Online TV Vanguard” – it is a significant development in an industry that largely to this point has treated web-based content as not quite real TV.

 

(image via mashable.com)

 

The fact that House of Cards made it into the hotly contested drama category, against the likes of Breaking BadGames of Thrones and Mad Men is clear sign that it is not only it is in and of itself excellent TV but that high class Tv is now coming increasingly via non-traditional channels.

A vanguard it may not be but it is an exciting step towards recognition that the entertainment landscape is twisting and contorting, thanks to the rise of technology, into ever more exciting, and hitherto, unseen shapes.

And that’s very good, non-ostrich-head-in-the-sand behaviour that should be welcomed.

 

 

3. Oh Amy why do they not love you as I do?
On reflection that headline does sound just a wee bit stalker-ish but I would like to assure the NSA, and its Australian counterpart, that it’s simply the utterings of a gushing Amy Poehler fan and nothing more.

Yes I know she was nominated for her starring role in what one of the most cleverly-written sitcoms to ever grace our screens, Parks and Recreation, alongside such comic luminaries as Edie Falco, (Nurse Jackie), Tina Fey (30 Rock), and Julia Louis-Deryfus (Veep), and that is a Very Good Thing.

But it would have been even sweeter if both Parks and Recreation, and all of Poehler’s equally talented co-stars, had been given the nominations they so richly deserve.

 

The cast of Parks and Recreation (image via eonline.com)

 

That’s not of course to say that it would have been easy to make room for Parks and Recreation in the Outstanding Comedy Series category, but though I love it dearly, I might have ever so quietly pushed Modern Family off to one side and given NBC’s best-performing sitcom a well-deserved moment in the Emmy sun.

It would have been very much a who-to-keep-in-the-lifeboat moment, a pop culture Sophie’s Choice if you will, but I would have done it if it meant that this gem of a sitcom got some more attention.

Whether it would win is another matter entirely since it is up against such stellar shows as 30 Rock (which will likely win given it has finished its run and the Emmys are a bunch of sentimental folks at heart), The Big Bang Theory (which I adore), Girls (clever, oh so clever), and Veep, but I would have liked it to at least have been given a chance.

 


 

TWO LAST THINGS
YAY! I was thrilled that Portlandia, from co-creators and co-writrs, Carrie Brownstein, and Fred Armisen (who has just exited Saturday Night Live) was nominated for one writing (Outstanding Writing For A Variety Series) and one directing award (Outstanding Directing For A Variety Series).

This is what Carrie Brownstein had to say about these two nominations on vulture.com:

“I think it’s always such a surprise to wake up to one, let alone two nominations, so we’re not thinking about, ‘How many can we get?. To even be on the periphery of that nexus of excitement is an honor for us. And it just gives us such a sense of confidence as we write season four.”

You can read the full interview of Carrie Brownstein by Jennifer Vineyard here.

 

(image via Portlandia.com)

 

NOOOO! It disappointed me greatly that The Americans didn’t get more lovin’ than it did.

It’s a brilliantly well-written, beautifully acted show that builds some much-needed greys into the Cold War-saturated 1980s, a starkly black-and-white era of extreme positions if ever there was one, and is one of the finer series to premiere this year.

Granted Margo Martindale as Claudia garnered a nomination in the Outstanding Guest Actress In A Drama Series category, and Nathan Barr got a look-in in the Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music section, but it missed out in the Outstanding Drama category, as did Keri Russell in the Best Actress division, a particularly egregious oversight as Matt Zoller Seitz observed at vulture.com:

“Not only was she flat-out terrific — as strong as Claire Danes on the similar Homeland, which is strong indeed — she obliterated past associations with her best-known character, Felicity. That’s very hard to do, and not many TV stars have managed to do it.”

 

(image via hollywoodreporter.com)

 

You can read the rest of his terrific thoughts on the nominations here.

And here’s the announcement replay for you in all its early morning glory …

 

 

Here’s the full list of the nominations all the major categories (again to access the full massive list of nods, head across to emmys.com)

Outstanding Drama Series
Breaking Bad

Downton Abbey

Game of Thrones

Homeland

House of Cards

Mad Men

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Hugh Bonneville, Downton Abbey
Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad

Jeff Daniels, The Newsroom

Jon Hamm, Mad Men

Damien Lewis, Homeland
Kevin Spacey, House of Cards

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Connie Britton, Nashville

Claire Danes, Homeland

Michelle Dockery, Downton Abbey

Vera Farmiga, Bates Motel
Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men
Kerry Washington, Scandal
Robin Wright, House of Cards

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Bobby Cannavale, Boardwalk Empire

Jonathan Banks, Breaking Bad

Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad

Jim Carter, Downton Abbey

Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones

Mandy Patinkin, Homeland

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Anna Gunn, Breaking Bad
Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
Emilia Clarke, Game of Thrones
Christine Baranski, The Good Wife
Morena Baccarin, Homeland

Christina Hendricks, Mad Men

Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama
Nathan Lane, The Good Wife
Michael J. Fox, The Good Wife

Rupert Friend, Homeland
Robert Morse, Mad Men

Harry Hamlin, Mad Men

Dan Bucatinsky, Scandal

Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama
Margo Martindale, The Americans

Diana Rigg, Game of Thrones
Carrie Preston, The Good Wife
Linda Cardellini, Mad Men
Jane Fonda, The Newsroom

Joan Cusack, Shameless

Outstanding Comedy Series
30 Rock

The Big Bang Theory

Girls

Louie

Modern Family

Veep

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock

Jason Bateman, Arrested Development
Louis C.K., Louie

Don Cheadle, House of Lies

Matt LeBlanc, Episodes

Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy
Laura Dern, Enlightened
Lena Dunham, Girls
Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep

Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy
Ty Burrell, Modern Family

Adam Driver, Girls

Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Modern Family
Bill Hader, Saturday Night Live
Tony Hale, Veep
Ed O’Neill, Modern Family

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy
Mayim Bialik, The Big Bang Theory
Julie Bowen, Modern Family
Anna Chlumsky, Veep

Jane Krakowski, 30 Rock
Jane Lynch, Glee
Merritt Wever, Nurse Jackie

Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy
Bobby Cannavale, Nurse Jackie
Louis C.K., Saturday Night Live
Will Forte, 30 Rock
Nathan Lane, Modern Family
Bob Newhart, The Big Bang Theory
Justin Timberlake, Saturday Night Live

Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy
Dot-Marie Jones, Glee

Melissa Leo, Louie
Melissa McCarthy, Saturday Night Live
Molly Shannon, Enlightened

Elaine Stritch, 30 Rock
Kristen Wiig, Saturday Night Live

Outstanding Reality Competition Program
The Amazing Race

Dancing With the Stars

Project Runway

So You Think You Can Dance

Top Chef
The Voice

Outstanding Reality Host
Tom Bergeron, Dancing With the Stars
Anthony Bourdain, The Taste

Cat Deely, So You Think You Can Dance

Hedi Klum and Tim Gunn, Project Runway
Ryan Seacrest, American Idol

Betty White, Betty White’s Off Their Rockers

Outstanding Variety Series
The Colbert Report

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart

Late Night With Jimmy Fallon

Real Time With Bill Maher

Saturday Night Live

Outstanding Miniseries or Movie
American Horror Story: Asylum

Behind the Candelabra

The Bible

Phil Spector

Political Animals

Top of the Lake

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie
Benedict Cumberbatch, Parade’s End

Matt Damon, Behind the Candelabra
Michael Douglas, Behind the Candelabra
Toby Jones, The Girl

Al Pacino, Phil Spector

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie
Jessica Lange, American Horror Story: Asylum

Laura Linney, The Big C: Hereafter

Elisabeth Moss, Top of the Lake

Helen Mirren, Phil Spector

Sigourney Weaver, Political Animals

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie
Scott Bakula, Behind the Candelabra
James Cromwell, American Horror Story: Asylum
John Benjamin Hickey, The Big C: Hereafter
Peter Mullan, Top of the Lake
Zachary Quinto, American Horror Story: Asylum

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie
Ellen Burstyn, Political Animals
Sarah Paulson, American Horror Story: Asylum

Charlotte Rampling, Restless
Imelda Staunton, The Girl

Alfre Woodard, Steel Magnolias

 

I love this show. Hope Laura Linney does well! (image via hollywoodreporter.com)

 

* Ancient mourning clothes, most loved by people prostrating before their gods; not exactly fashion for the streets however (unless you’re a dour, unsmiling catwalk model in which you will look perfectly normal).

** This is not approved by 9 out 10 dentists; the 10th dentist isn’t actually paying attention to what you’re saying and thinks you’re “mashing beef” … just leave him or her be.