While the 1996 adaption of J.G. Ballard’s novel of the same name isn’t entirely Cronenberg’s deformed brainchild, his chilly, detached direction lends itself perfectly to the atmosphere and mood of the film that portrays the streets of Toronto as a sea of machinery and metallic debauchery. This doesn’t, however, undermine the layer of humanism that’s trying to budge above the surface. The film ultimately chronicles characters trying to do something they don’t know how to achieve, and the inherent sadness and contradiction of trying to connect on a humanistic level through the passionless, cut off nature of machinery.
Set during the pioneer era, The Homesman subverts the usual trajectory of westerns set in this time by instead focusing on a journey from what will eventually become Nebraska territory in the West to more Eastern Iowa, wherein defeat via the frontier is a primary concern, whether it be a defeat of the mind, body, soul, or all together. Director Tommy Lee Jones’s last theatrically released film was The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005), a contemporary neo-western with shades of Sam Peckinpah in its flavour. The Homesman may have the set dressing of a more traditional, old-school genre entry, but this film, adapted from Glendon Swarthout’s 1988 novel, is much more offbeat than one might expect.
Last week The Blacklist gave audiences a file folder with evidence to prove Red Reddington was really someone Liz Keen should hate. This week the evidence in that folder was revealed and it like the episode was completely underwhelming.
This week the confrontation between the Keen couple finally occurred and with that came answers to a long gestating mystery. The Pavlovich Brothers who kidnapped the daughter of a general in the pilot of the show make a return to kidnap a woman involved in a chemical weapons project called White Fog. Both plotlines help to remind us how far Lizzie and Red have come in their partnership and also spotlight how much they rely on each other.
The fascinating thing about The Blacklist this week was watching Elizabeth Keene slowly learn more about who her husband really is. Just like last week believing in something or doing something with conviction was the theme and it made for a really solid episode. Milton Bobbit’s scheme was to get terminally ill people to kill important people via suicide attempt. This act involves killing someone and yourself along with them. In return for their suicide, the family of the terminally ill individual would be provided for after their death.
The Blacklist is still a far from perfect show, but it seems to understand the groove it has made of itself and it seems to working. Hopefully it can keep this up going forward.
“The Judge” satisfies, but the foundation of the episode crumbles the more that time and thought are weighted against it.
Another episode of The Blacklist come and gone and it’s certainly improving in some ways, but the show still doesn’t feel like substantial or noteworthy television that anyone should be devoting time to.
The most essential and important part of a television show is having characters that the viewer inherently cares about and whose interests or concerns they care about as much as the characters themselves do. Without that, the show becomes a house of cards that grows evermore unstable as time goes on. Sure, the story drives the episodes from one point to another, but emotional connections aren’t made with the story or, if they are, it’s to a much lesser degree. No connections are made with characters and The Blacklist has created a story that is adequate with characters that, outside of James Spader’s Red, are completely weak and as close to one-dimensional as it gets.
If ever there was one word to sum up The Blacklist, that word would have to be frustrating. It’s not frustrating for the fact that it’s bad; that would be understandable and even acceptable. No, The Blacklist is frustrating because it is occasionally good and even when it’s bad, glimpses of how the show could be good shine through and that might be worse. It’s almost as if the producers are taunting its audience with a look at how things on the show could be, but probably never will.
When the new shows for fall 2013 were being announced, it seemed all but guaranteed that The Blacklist would the standout from the bunch. It had a great lead in the form of James Spader and a solid episodic premise that just might border on intrigue, but instead, The Blacklist proved to be consistent at one thing among others: disappointment. That was true for the first half of the season, at least. Could this new year mean a better, more improved show? It doesn’t seem likely.
This first half of The Blacklist’s first season has been, at best, rough. It’s had some ups, it’s had a lot of downs, but, by the end, the best that can be said is: “It’s growing on me”. Growing like a piece of fungus, but growing, nonetheless.
The quiet power of sex, lies, and videotape often gets lost in the cultural influence the film had. It’s often hailed as one of the first real independent films to make an impact and as the movie that announced the arrival of Steven Soderbergh. But beneath all of that is an often challenging film.
In the first of two parts, “Anslo Garrick, Part 1” has everyone’s favorite international criminal Red (James Spader) in need of protection from Anslo Garrick, a spurned colleague from Red’s past. Garrick ,somehow, knows that Red is working with the FBI and knows precisely what they’d do with Red if word got out that someone wanted Red’s head on a silver platter.
The Blacklist, Season 1, Episode 9: “General Ludd” Written by Amanda Kate Shuman Directed by Stephen Surjik Airs Mondays on NBC at 10pm ET “General Ludd” can be chalked up as one of The Blacklist‘s more sub-par episodes. There is nothing remarkable or terrible about the episode as a whole. It settles for being merely serviceable, …
The Blacklist has proven over seven episodes that it excels at being consistently inconsistent from week to week. Some episodes make the show look like it’s a lost cause that should never be viewed by anyone ever. If that’s all the show would ever be, not a problem. Just pack it in and move on to the next thing. The problem is that The Blacklist reaches moments of actual excellence. It somehow tricks the viewer into thinking that they’re watching something of value until the next episode, where the show will likely spin around and smack you for thinking such silly thoughts. That’s just the way it is with The Blacklist: some reach pretty high on the quality scale and others fall well below that mark.
The Blacklist, Season 1, Episode 6: “Gina Zanetakos” Written by Wendy West Directed by Adam Arkin Airs Mondays at 10pm ET on NBC Last week’s “The Courier” ended with Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone) being confronted by her husband Tom (Ryan Eggold) over a box filled with guns and fake passports, The Bourne Identity style. Tom thinks …
The Blacklist, Season 1, Episode 5, ‘The Courier” Written by John C. Kelley Directed by Nick Gomez Airs Mondays at 10pm ET on NBC At its core, James Spader is the driving force of The Blacklist. Spader is an extremely talented actor, but he is not enough to keep the show interesting week-to-week. What will, however, …
“The Stewmaker” opens to a very Silence of the Lambs-esque sequence that is simultaneously creepy, captivating, and tonally out of place with other aspects of the episode. Most of the episode does work. Anything actually involving ‘The Stewmaker’ himself (which isn’t nearly enough of the episode) is extremely compelling television. The problem isn’t ‘The Stewmaker’. The problem is the peripheral junk happening to the side of this interesting character.
“Wujing” attempts to to make the Arrow-esque concept of bringing down a list of bad guys a tad bit more interesting with Reddington (James Spader) being approached by an associate of the intelligence community’s urban legend Wujing (The Dark Knight’s Chin Han) to decipher a CIA transmission that would allow the Chinese to identify an American spy and then take him out. Meanwhile, Keen (Megan Boone) takes a closer look at Tom (Ryan Eggold).
The Blacklist’s first episode, Pilot, begins with former government agent Raymond Reddington (James Spader) walking into FBI headquarters and promptly gives himself up to the powers that be. Promising information on famed terrorist Ranko Zamani, the only catch being that he’ll only speak to one person: Elizabeth Keen(Megan Boone). Clearly that’s a high-ranking federal officer, right? Wrong. Elizabeth Keen is a green agent who has yet to work a single day at the FBI.
Lincoln Directed by Steven Spielberg Written by Tony Kushner USA, 2012 The American political system is hopelessly fractured. Its legislators are viciously divided on how to govern the nation. The president, about to begin his second term in office on a groundswell of grassroots public support, is either too much or not enough of a …
Shorts Directed by Robert Rodriguez Breezy and entertaining while preserving its intelligence, Shorts is a rarity in this unexciting celluloid summer. The film revolves around a magical rock that allows wishes to become reality. As one would expect, chaos slowly ensues as every character who gets ahold of the rock finds his wishes backfire into …