24 Blog 9.4: Wrapped Around Your Finger

24 9 4-2

Too soon?

Last week I made the rather safe and obvious prediction that Mommie Dearest would put her own daughter down like a dog the moment that Simone threatened to betray her. What I didn’t expect was that Mommie would give the order to chop off her daughter’s fingers in order to get her daughter’s conscience-stricken husband to fall in line and command the drones. Then again, Mommie did say that she would do “whatever is necessary” to change Navid’s mind, and damned if she didn’t mean every word. In retrospect, Simone is probably embarrassed that she didn’t see that coming.

Still, holy shit, that actually happened.

Read the rest of this entry »

  

You can follow us on Twitter and Facebook for content updates. Also, sign up for our email list for weekly updates and check us out on Google+ as well.

24 Blog 9.3: The Angry Mob

24 9 3-1

“We are the angry mob, we read the papers every day / We like who we like, we hate who we hate, but we’re also easily swayed.”

Well, you’re a mob, so by definition, you’re prone to outrage and righteous indignation. As an added bonus, not having all of the facts makes it easier for your collective conscience to rationalize your behavior. “So tonight, you’ll sleep softly in your beds…”

The Kaiser Chiefs – writers of the above lyrics, and this week’s blog title – never really established more than a cult following here in the States – and that makes sense, given their overt “Britishness,” for lack of a better word – but damn, do I love those guys. And their new record, the politically charged Education, Education, Education and War, is their best in ages. All right, Shameless Plug of the Week ends here.

Read the rest of this entry »

  

24 Blog: 9.1/9.2 – Good Morning Britain

24_1-1

Aaaaaaaaand we’re back! First, I’d like to thank Fox for giving me a four-year vacation from blogging “24.” It was much needed, long overdue, and I enjoyed every minute of it, but I am refreshed and ready for duty, sir. So, what are we doing this year?

Ah, of course: we’re doing the same damn thing, only in London.

To be fair, the setup for this season isn’t awful; it’s just not any different than any other season. Jack Bauer, a wanted man in three countries, is still carrying out his duties as a counter-terrorist agent, despite the fact that his own countrymen consider him a terrorist. They’ve done this before, you may remember, when he began a season undercover as an employee for a Mexican drug cartel. Wasn’t that adorable? At least this premise makes more sense. Jack has always fought to protect the best interests of the United States; he just didn’t have much of a filter when it came to interrogating anyone he considered an enemy of the state. Foreign, domestic, whatever. If you mess with the USA, you will answer to me.

And who is the president now? Why, none other than Big Dick Heller! This is a contrived move but a savvy one as well. He’s a much-loved supporting character by “24” fans, and as an added bonus, Jack’s involvement with Big Dick’s daughter Audrey led to her abduction and subsequent torture at the hands of the Chinese government. Audrey is now married to Big Dick’s chief of staff Mark Boudreau (official “24” nickname: Hercules, because yes, he was the voice of Hercules in the 1997 Disney movie), and he doesn’t want Jack’s name even mentioned in front of Audrey, for fear it will cause her to relapse into the catatonic state that she was in when we last saw her. But that’s all busy plot stuff. What is really happening here?

24_1-2

“They said, ‘Hey, you’re blonde, awesome, when can you start?’ Easiest, audition, ever. Wait, is there a catch?”

Someone’s plotting to kill Big Dick on foreign soil, and they just did a test run on the murder weapon (a US drone, which is as heavy-handed as irony gets) by hijacking a drone pilot’s memory key and setting him up for the fall. Off-the-grid Jack intercepted intel that mentioned an assassination attempt on Big Dick, which is why he allowed himself to get caught by the CIA so he can break out Chloe, who’s gone all Wikileaks since we last saw her, and was being held in the CIA equivalent of Zed’s basement, only with torture instead of rape.

This might sound loyal or even romantic, but really, he broke her out because the person responsible for the drone strike is one of her now-former coworkers, who thankfully doesn’t live to the end credits of the second hour, for a couple of reasons. The guy is rightly paranoid about being afraid for his life since dead men collect no cash, yet he doesn’t suspect that the undersexed Russian Barbie doll he calls a girlfriend might be in fact an English assassin employed to kill him (hell, he didn’t even notice that she was wearing a wig). That needed to happen. Thank you, Fox. We may curse your name later but for now, we thank you. And bonus points for having her twist the knife in his head. That was a nice extra dose of nastiness.

Each blog post is based on a song title, and this week’s title comes courtesy of my lovely wife, after I complained that all of the songs with “London” in the title didn’t quite fit (I’m going to save those for later, with the hope that they might work out). The funny thing is that this song was co-written by Roddy Frame, who’s Scottish, but he has Mick Jones, a member of UK rock royalty, joining him, so it’s all good.

  

The Light from the TV Shows: Chatting with the Cast of WGN’s ‘Salem’

For years, WGN has been a network that’s gotten precious little notice from most cable subscribers outside of Chicago, but in recent years, they’ve been trying to expand their viewership through moves like, for instance, serving as the exclusive U.S. home of the long-running Canadian comedy, Corner Gas. Unfortunately, that didn’t turn out to be the ratings-grabber that they’d hoped it might be, but things are on the upswing now that the network has branched out and begun their own original programming, kicking off their new roster with the supernatural period-piece drama Salem.

Bullz-Eye was invited to visit the set a few weeks back, and we were amazed at how well they’ve captured the look and feel of the era, but we were a little bit thrown when we discovered that our interview ops with the cast members were to be done on camera…even if we weren’t going to be using the footage! Still, we had four very nice chats during the course of the day, each featuring two cast members, and we got a bit of insight into how each of them came to join the series, who their characters are, and what we can expect from Salem as the series rolls through its first season.

XB-Salem

Xander Berkeley and Tamzin Merchant

Bullz-Eye: Had you both been actively looking for series work when this came about?

Xander Berkeley: Serious work or series work? [Laughs.]

Tamzin Merchant: I’m always constantly looking for work wherever! I’m always surprised if anyone wants to cast me in something. [Laughs.] I’m always, like, “Really? Okay! Cool! I’ll do it!”

BE: What was it about this particular project that appealed to you?

TM: That they wanted to hire me. [Laughs.] No, I’m joking. I just loved the script, and I loved the world. I loved that the magic meets history, and…it’s been really cool for that reason.

BE: Xander, you actually had some hesitations about signing onto the series at first.

XB: Well, you know, partly because I have a family, and it’s a long way away, so I was a little concerned on that front. My wife (Sarah Clarke) acts and works a lot, and there were certain projects that were pending for her, and we can’t both be away. So those were the only real concerns. The script was spellbinding from day one, and the project is awesome. I’m so glad to be part of it.

Read the rest of this entry »

  

Blu Tuesday: The Wolf of Wall Street, Veep and The Great Beauty

Every Tuesday, I review the newest Blu-ray releases and let you know whether they’re worth buying, renting or skipping, along with a breakdown of the included extras. If you see something you like, click on the cover art to purchase the Blu-ray from Amazon, and be sure to share each week’s column on Facebook and Twitter with your friends.

“The Wolf of Wall Street”

WHAT: After losing his job on Wall Street following the events of Black Monday, go-getter Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) opens up his own firm selling penny stocks to the wealthy, turning Jordan and his closest pals (including Jonah Hill) into millionaires overnight. Living the high life with his gorgeous new wife (Margot Robbie), Jordan thinks he’s invincible – that is, until he catches wind that the FBI has launched an investigation into the firm for stock market manipulation and other related crimes.

WHY: It’s been a while since Martin Scorsese’s last truly great film, but the director has rebounded in style with “The Wolf of Wall Street,” highlighted by Terrence Winter’s hilarious script and Leonard DiCaprio’s brilliant turn as Jordan Belfort. You’ve never seen the actor quite like this before, and he’s in top form as the notorious stockbroker, delivering what is arguably his best performance with Scorsese yet. The rest of the cast is great as well, especially Jonah Hill in another award-worthy turn, up-and-comer Margot Robbie and Matthew McConaughey in a short but memorable cameo. Loud, flashy and totally obscene, the movie is like a private tour through Belfort’s excessive, hard-partying lifestyle, including easily one of the greatest sequences of the year. (Hint: it involves a highly potent strain of Quaaludes.) Though it’s a little too long for its own good, the characters are so magnetic and the dialogue so fast and funny that “The Wolf of Wall Street” is hard not to enjoy. It’s Scorsese’s best film in years, and one that will only get better with time.

EXTRAS: Regrettably, there’s only one special feature in the form of “The Wolf Pack,” a behind-the-scenes look at bringing Jordan Belfort’s life to the big screen with interviews from Martin Scorsese, Leonardo DiCaprio and others

FINAL VERDICT: BUY

“Veep: The Complete Second Season”

WHAT: U.S. Vice President Selina Myers (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and her staff navigate the murky waters of Washington, D.C. as she deals with a presidential scandal, crooked congressmen, a government shutdown and more

WHY: The first season of “Veep” showed immense promise, but it was clear that it still had some growing to do behind the scenes, and that growth is evident in the show’s second year. Granted, the situations that Selina and her staff find themselves in are still incredibly ridiculous (and if even remotely close to what actually happens at the White House, a little frightening), but it feels like there’s much more at stake this time around. The ensemble cast has also had more time to gel, and they’re even funnier than before as a result. Every actor plays their part perfectly – from Anna Chlumsky’s loyal chief of staff, to Matt Walsh’s blockhead publicist, to Timothy Simmons’ oddball White House liaison – and you needn’t look any further than Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ Emmy speech for evidence of that. The addition of Gary Cole and Kevin Dunn to the cast was also a shrewd move on the part of Armando Iannucci, but the show lives and dies by Louis-Dreyfus’s hilarious performance as the so-called Veep. She’s one of the funniest women in show business, and with the exception of Elaine Benes, this will likely go down as the best role of her career.

EXTRAS: In addition to four audio commentary tracks featuring members of the cast and crew (including creator Armando Iannucci and star Julia Louis-Dreyfus), there are deleted and alternate scenes for each episode.

FINAL VERDICT: RENT

“The Great Beauty”

WHAT: For decades, journalist Jep Gambardella (Toni Servillo) has served as Rome’s self-described king of high society, gallivanting through an endless series of lavish nightclubs and parties with his equally pretentious friends. But on his 65th birthday, Jep begins to look back on his superficial life against the beautiful backdrop of the Eternal City.

WHY: “The Great Beauty” may have won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, but there were far better movies released last year. Felliniesque in its self-indulgence and general lack of focus, the film is unable to maintain the high-energy pace of the opening dance party, ultimately succumbing to its sluggish, 142-minute runtime. The root of the problem is director Paolo Sorrentino and co-writer Umberto Contarello’s script, which never seems sure what it wants to say. Characters and subplots come and go with little explanation, including a storyline involving Jep’s childhood love that’s brought up early on and never mentioned again until the very end. Toni Servillo delivers a solid performance in the lead role, but his character is too misanthropic for the audience to care what happens to him, contradicting his supposed reformation every chance he gets. If there’s any reason to invest the two-plus hours watching “The Great Beauty,” it’s for cinematographer Luca Bigazzi’s gorgeous visuals, which capture the spirit and splendor of Rome in such a manner that it comes as a close to experiencing the real thing that some people will ever get.

EXTRAS: The Blu-ray release includes a conversation between director Paolo Sorrentino and Italian cultural critic Antonio Monda, interviews with actor Toni Servillo and co-writer Umberto Contarello, deleted scenes and a booklet featuring an essay by critic Phillip Lopate.

FINAL VERDICT: RENT

  

Related Posts