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A review of tonight's "Homeland" coming up just as soon as I find out what vitamin water is...
Your interest in "Hell on Wheels" remains just strong enough for me to keep doing these weekly talkback posts. What's notable about tonight's episode, I thought, is how it finally puts Cullen Bohannan's quest for... revenge! on hold for a while and forces him to actually spend time focusing on his day job as Doc Durant's foreman. Which is probably for the best in terms of the show's long-term creative future (if it has one): there's only so many bad men who hurt his wife, while there are many, many miles of track still to be laid, and the show needs to get its central character more actively involved in what the show is actually about. (Though this week, at least, he's a pretty lousy boss for most of the hour.)
What did you guys think of this one? Would you rather Cullen just continue his bloody quest, or were you glad to see him spend more time at the office? How did you feel about Lily and Doc's interactions, Elam's search for comfort, the Irish brothers' attempt to make fast cash, etc?
A review of tonight's "Boardwalk Empire" coming up just as soon as I pay to hear what kind of fool I am...
A review of tonight's "The Walking Dead" mid-season finale coming up just as soon as I'm in line for the early bird special...
This afternoon, following the nationwide sneaks of Steven Spielberg's "War Horse" (which joined in Cameron Crowe's "We Bought a Zoo" in that regard, two films that share more than just that distinction), the esteemed director took the stage in front of a Lincoln Center theater audience to participate in a Q&A with journalist and author Mark Harris. The event was streamed live at MSN Entertainment and rebroadcast afterward.
Since this was a public event and given the live broadcasting of the discussion, it seems fair to me to lift a number of choice quotes from the proceedings. Spielberg hasn't done a lot of press in advance of the film's release (though he did speak with the Chicago Tribune's Michael Phillips recently), so it's a good perspective to finally have.
Harris began things by actually noting a parallel between "War Horse" and the cinema of John Ford, which Anne and I brought up in Friday's edition of Oscar Talk. "Ford's in my mind when I make a lot of my pictures," Spielberg said. "I grew up with John Ford movies and I know a lot about his work and have studied him. I think the thing that might resemble a John Ford movie more than anything else is that Ford celebrated rituals and traditions and he celebrated the land. In 'War Horse,' the land is a character. It's the biggest thing that is a character that you perhaps didn't notice until you think back."
A reader comment in last week's "War Horse" assessment sparked me to an element of this year's Oscar season that I hadn't even noticed: Dartmoor's time in the spotlight.
The Dartmoor moorland in South Devon County, England is a protected National Park known for its tors, rivers and bogs (yep, I'm skipping a stone across the Wikipedia entry). It's notable this year, though, because two of the upcoming holiday season's crowd-pleasing, sentimental entries share ties to the location.
Cameron Crowe's "We Bought a Zoo" was adapted from the memoir by Benjamin Mee, who purchased the Dartmoor Wildlife Park (now called the Dartmoor Zoological Park) and set up shop with his family. The film was shifted to a San Diego County location, however.
I am a weepy old man.
I've always had one of those filters where I am wide open to movies, and if one of them finds my spot, and I get emotionally played for two hours, I'm not going to walk out afterwards angry because I got played. That's why I bought the ticket. And ever since I had kids, I find that my antenna are even more attuned to it, and I am easier than ever to set off. I could pretend to be above it, or I could strike a much more cynical and calculated pose in my writing, but if I'm being honest with you, I'm a sap. I cop to it completely.
As a result, I did my best to run out a side door so I didn't have to make eye contact with anyone after "We Bought A Zoo" tonight at the Pacific Winnetka, just one of the thousands of theaters where 20th Century Fox held a nationwide sneak tonight. I didn't want to see anyone because I know I was a mess. It got so bad at one point that I started laughing at just how expertly director Cameron Crowe was punching my button. This movie is a big fat right down the middle mainstream family movie, and I'm guessing that word of mouth is going to be very strong.
Cameron Crowe's Get Out of Jail card just hit theaters. Well, it hit your multiplex for a sneak peek on Saturday night. "We Bought A Zoo" is Crowe's first movie since the disastrous "Elizabethtown" in 2005. That romance Crowe's second critical failure after "Vanilla Sky," but the former thriller still had enough Tom Cruise star power to turn a profit. Not only did "Elizabethtown" cool Crowe's previously lauded career, but it was one of the reasons Cruise and his then producing partner, Paula Wagner, found themselves out of a production deal at Paramount. Now, six years later, Crowe returns with "Zoo," a very commercial dramedy with some of the filmmaker's trademark touches thrown in for good measure.
Steven Spielberg hasn't been a major player in the Oscar game since "Munich" was nominated for best picture and he received a best director nod in 2006. In the five year since, Spielberg re-teamed with his old buddy George Lucas on another "Indiana Jones" adventure (one best forgotten) and spent a good deal of effort giving DreamWorks Studios new life at the Walt Disney Company after an unsuccessful alliance with Paramount. Spielberg's first directorial effort for the new DreamWorks is "War Horse" and ever since the rights to Michael Morpurgo's 1982 novel were acquired the project had the Oscar bait stamp all over it. The film has been finished since late summer when selected long lead press screened it. Over the past few weeks more media found themselves partaking the approximately 2 hour and 20 min epic as well as some random film screening groups that Spielberg personally attended. On Thanksgiving the floodgates opened and guild, Academy and media members all began to bask in the legendary filmmaker's endeavor. And, surprise, awards season took a turn.
HitFix has a full, talented roster of film writers (and that's not even counting when Drew gets his adorable son to adorably interview Kermit and Miss Piggy) and my schedule doesn't usually give me much time to either see or write about movies. But for some films, I make an exception, and "The Muppets" is one of those. Drew already wrote his own review, and I have a lot of thoughts on the film - meant, like most of my TV reviews, to be read after you've seen it, so don't click through if you don't want to know about the cameos and various jokes - coming up just as soon as I travel by map...