Friday, February 28, 2014

Flashy!

While Marvel Studios is busy populating the big screen with the many denizens of its comic book universe, DC Comics seems to be taking the same approach on television. To wit, here's our first look at actor Grant Gustin, wearing the trademark red-and-gold duds of the titular hero in the CW's upcoming The Flash, itself a spin-off of the net's popular Green Arrow skein Arrow, now in its third year. A lot of the pipe for Flash was laid earlier this season on Arrow via a multi-episode arc that brought Gustin's Barry Allen, a forensic detective by trade, to Arrow's home turf of Starling City. That storyline culminated in Allen receiving a lightning-charged electro-chemical bath that leaves his feet feeling extra fleet, which in turn leads directly into this pilot. While we don't know much beyond the pic above, this project is certainly off to a promising start, with a lineup of solid supporting players that includes Law & Order's Jesse L. Martin, not to mention TV's original Flash, John Wesley Shipp in a potentially recurring role. More word on this (and hopefully a full-body pic of the suit) as soon as it hits.

Zaki's Review: Non-Stop

In my discussion of 3 Days to Kill last week, I made note of how star Kevin Costner's turn as an aging CIA hitman was essentially mimicking the Liam Neeson action model that's served the Oscar-nominated Irishman quite well in the six years since the first Taken hit screens. Now here we are one week later, and the real thing is here to show us all how it's done. In Non-Stop (or, as I call it, "Liam Neeson Action Movie 2014"), Neeson stars as air marshal Bill Marks, a harried, hard-drinking behemoth of a man who also (of course) happens to hate flying.

Settling in for a routine run across the pond to London, Marks receives an anonymous text message (on his secure phone) from one of the passengers, threatening to kill someone every twenty minutes until a $150 million deposit is made into a specific account. From there, a mid-air manhunt begins, with Marks trying desperately to track the killer, all the while keeping the passengers' growing fears at bay and, in a variation on the hoariest of action picture cliches, being relieved of duty and handing his gun and badge over to the pilot (Linus Roache).

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Whither Ghostbusters 3?

In my remembrance of the late Harold Ramis on Monday, I mentioned that I'd rather his passing mean a final end to the long-rumored third Ghostbusters, that's been on the development track for about as long as I can remember. While the intention had always been for Ramis, along with original GBs Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray to appear in the film, the nature and extent of that involvement was always in question, and as Ernie Hudson (aka Winston Zeddemore, far too often the forgotten Ghostbuster) told TMZ yesterday, "There can’t be another Ghostbusters without Harold...That was always my fear, was that something would happen before we all got together."

I think that was a lot of people's fear, but as it happens, the absence of Egon Spengler isn't quite enough for home studio Sony to slow development on Ghostbusters 3 (which, to be fair, hasn't exactly been blazing through the development pipeline anyway). Indeed, most reports have said all along that the goal was for (all or some of) the original stars to hand off the ghost-hunting gear to a

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Okay, I've Changed My Tune on Godzilla...

Last December I posted the teaser trailer for Warner Bros./Legendary Pictures' upcoming Godzilla reboot and said that it didn't really do anything for me. I took a fair amount of grief for that, but what can I say, the heart feels what it feels. Anyway, the flick is set to hit theaters next summer, and after releasing the poster to the right last week, WB has just dropped the first full trailer for their giant monster flick, directed by Gareth Edwards and starring Bryan Cranston, Aaron Taylor  Johnson, Elizabeth Olson, Ken Watanabe, and more. Check it out below, and I'm sure you'll see why it was enough to make me change my tune. I'm now officially jazzed for this.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Harold Ramis, RIP

About twelve years ago, while I was in the middle of my time studying film at Columbia College Chicago, writer/director/actor Harold Ramis, who remained even then a proud Chicago son, came to speak to us as part of a Q&A. To this day that remains one of my clearest and fondest memories of my time at Columbia, not only because I got to chat, however briefly, with someone I'd admired since my childhood, but also because of how open and giving he was with his time, conveying a genuine sense of investment and interest in the fortunes of this motley group of misfit storytellers. I've been reliving my memories of that event all day today, ever since word broke this morning that Ramis had passed away at age 69, succumbing to an autoimmune illness he'd been battling since 2010.

The MovieFilm Podcast: Episode 42

I kick off this episode of the show by expounding on my reaction to Kevin Costner's spy flick 3 Days to Kill (read the full review here). In addition, Brian and I weigh the pros and cons of The Lego Movie and RoboCop, and Sean weighs in on All is Lost as well as the occasional glimpses of Riddick he spied from a neighbor's screen while sitting on an airplane.

From there, we share our initial reactions to the first Guardians of the Galaxy trailer, ponder the puzzling choice of actor Jai Courtney to play the rebooted Kyle Reese in the upcoming Terminator: Genesis, scratch our heads over the entire ensemble for the upcoming Fantastic Four reboot, question the wisdom/necessity of making Space Jam 2, and talk upcoming TV by way of the Batman prequel series Gotham and the animated Star Wars: Rebels.

After that, it's on to all things comedy as we not only share what films make us laugh, we also wonder why others don't, offering up some theories along the way, and we share several of our listeners' favorite comedies flicks of all time. There's much more, of course, and you can stream it below, or listen via iTunes or Stitcher (and be sure to leave us a review once you do!). As always, make sure to hit up our Facebook page to let us know how we're doing!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Rubio Collapse

In the wake of the 2012 election, in which President Obama snared 71% of the Hispanic vote (to Mitt Romney's 27%), it became a necessity for Republicans to seriously rethink their Latino outreach. In the days and weeks post-election, when asked what was next for the GOP, I said that obviously they'd swallow hard and make immigration reform happen, and I said it was also a virtual lock that freshly-elected senator Marco Rubio, handsome, Hispanic, would be at the top or near the top of the party's presidential ticket come 2016.

Welp, what a difference a year-and-a-half can make. First off, John Boehner has made clear that we shouldn't expect any movement on immigration reform anytime soon for fear of alienating Tea Party crazies. And as for Rubio, the man who'd been tasked with selling Republicans on reform? Well, let's just say no one's mentioning him as a 2016 anything (and that was even before the famous glug-glug incident last year). So how did this happen? How did the GOP toss aside one of its own potential leading lights? Jonathan Chait lays out the political kneecapping of Marco Rubio in sordid, cringe-inducing detail.

Nostalgia Theater: DuckTales! Woo-ooh!

A few months ago, I mentioned that I'd be getting into some of the different series that populated Disney's syndicated lineup of weekday afternoon animated fare produced during the late-'80s and early-'90s. First up is the thing that got the whole shebang started for the Mouse House, and if you sang the headline above instead of reading it, rest assured, you're right in the sweet spot for this week's Nostalgia Theater: Disney's DuckTales. Here's the intro for the show, which featured the globe-trotting exploits of Donald Duck's cantankerous, gazillionaire uncle Scrooge McDuck:

Friday, February 21, 2014

Zaki's Review: 3 Days to Kill

Getting older has been good for Kevin Costner. As the one-time Robin Hood's face has grown more creased and weathered with the passage of years, it's allowed him to leave behind some of the trappings of superstardom that first propelled and then constrained him during the '80s and '90s, leading him to the much more fruitful and fulfilling character parts that await all leading men eventually. During the past nine months we've seen Costner fully leverage the audience's fondness for and familiarity with him to effectively play surrogate father to two iconic heroes in two key supporting roles.

For his latest starring turn, the McG-directed 3 Days to Kill, Costner reinvents himself yet again, amping up the ass-kickery as a world weary, no-nonsense CIA assassin and clearly tearing a page out of the "Liam Neeson Playbook For Late-Career Reinvention" (produced by Luc Besson, no less). However, while the original Taken gave Neeson a compelling character to play and dropped him into the middle of a taut, to-the-point storyline, 3 Days to Kill does its star no favors with a muddled, often-meandering narrative (story by Besson) that goes in too many directions, and far too often thinks it's more clever than it is.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy Showcases Marvel's Motley Band of Deep Space Do-Gooders

Meant to post this a few days ago but the week kind of got away from me. Here's our first look at Marvel's upcoming sci-fi opus Guardians of the Galaxy, due to hit theaters this August. As I mentioned upon first seeing this assemblage, I get a real Farscape vibe (which isn't necessarily a bad thing). Directed by James Gunn and starring comedian-turned-action hero Chris Pratt in the central role of Peter "Star-Lord" Quill, Guardians will be fully leveraging people's fondness for the "Marvel Studios" brand, expanding the cinematic universe to include a wisecracking, gun-toting raccoon and a walking, talking tree. I've never read the comics on which this is based, but kudos to the Marvel brain-trust for pushing the boundaries of disbelief-suspension. Watch the Guardians trailer below, then jump over to Bleeding Cool for an exhaustive (and I mean exhaustive) shot-by-shot analysis.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Done With Dunn

Jon Stewart gives what I think is pretty much the final word on the Michael Dunn verdict and its broader implications. Given the circumstances, I'm not sure "funny" is the word, but it's worth watching all the same. Catch part one below, and part two after the jump.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

On Race and Unreasonable Fears

As we all know, the "Stand Your Ground" law in Florida came under a fair amount of national scrutiny during the Trayvon Martin case. Sadly that's not the only instance that calls into question both the utility and application of this law, which allows a potential aggressor to use the perceived fear of a perceived threat to justify firing a weapon and taking a life. The problem, of course, lies in how nebulously we define terms like "reasonable" and "fear." Case in point, the Michael Dunn trial that just concluded in Florida yesterday.

Dunn, a middle aged white man, shot Jordan Davis, an un-armed black teenager, in November of 2012 in a convenience store parking lot after beginning an argument with the teen and his friends, sitting in an SUV, that their "thug music" was too loud. After the shooting, Dunn returned to his hotel and didn't call the authorities. Davis,

Nostalgia Theater: Hey Paisanos! It's The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!

Last August I posted about the late-'80s/early-90s' focus on all-things Nintendo, with the Super Mario Bros. as the video game company's most visible face. That led to a licensing bonanza that allowed kids to sleep in Nintendo sheets, wear Nintendo t-shirts, and, oh yeah, eat Nintendo cereal. Most importantly (at least as it pertains to this week's post), it led to weekday afternoon staples like the animated Super Mario Bros. Super Show, which aired in syndication for two seasons between 1989 and 1991. I have a feeling anyone who grew up during that era has clear memories of this:

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Cablegram

Yesterday it was announced that cable company Comcast (which also owns NBCUniversal) is about to acquire its biggest competitor, Time Warner Cable, in the process creating one of the biggest multimedia consortiums in history. Obviously this is going to have longterm effects that will play out over time, and aren't going to be confined solely to how we consume cable TV. Nonetheless, for those out there who have some immediate concerns, the folks at Comcast and Time Warner (by way of humorist Andy Borowitz and The New Yorker) have provided us with a helpful FAQ.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

More Recommended Reading

While Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak's ouster from power three years ago this week was greeted at the time as a clear win for populism, the country's nascent bid for democratic rule has endured its fair share of growing pains since. H.A. Hellyer at Salon looks back on the Egyptian uprising with the benefit of hindsight.

From The Onion...

Don't you hate when people don't live down to your stereotypes?
Conservative Acquaintance Annoyingly Not Racist 
BROOKLYN, NY—Acknowledging that the man’s right-wing views are more nuanced than one might expect, 36-year-old liberal Diana Hardwick confided to reporters Tuesday that her conservative acquaintance Brady Daniels is, quite frustratingly, not racist. “We got to talking about immigration, and I really wanted him to undermine his argument for stricter border controls by saying something disparaging of Latinos, but apparently his opinions are based entirely on national security issues instead of race—which is super irritating,” Hardwick said of Daniels, who reportedly describes himself as a “strong conservative” on fiscal issues but, annoyingly, exhibits no racial biases. “It would be so much easier if I could just write him off as a bigot, but as far as I can tell he harbors no resentment or disdain toward people of color. For God’s sake, we argued every issue from states’ rights to income disparity but nope, he didn’t say anything even tacitly racist. Not once.” Hardwick later concluded that her acquaintance’s opposition to most of President Obama’s policies meant he was probably “close enough” to count as a racist.

Recommended Reading

Robert Reich on the three major economic lessons we learned in the post-World War II era, and why they appear to have been forgotten. Reich is always worth reading, and this is no exception.

Zaki's Review: RoboCop (2014)

From the very beginning, ever since MGM's remake of 1987's seminal action flick RoboCop was announced many moons ago, I've been rooting for it. Yes, that first film is a quintessential piece of '80s arcana. Yes, its alchemy-like mix of satire and ultra-violence remains just as potent today as when it hit theaters. And yes, it's one of my favorite movies. Ever.* Nonetheless, given that studios are rarely wont to let little things like "artistic integrity" stand in the way of exploiting extant IP, my philosophy regarding Robo redux was always, "If you're going to do it, do it well."

Thus, when the Lion brought in director Jose Padilha (of the cult favorite Elite Squad films out of Brazil) to helm the project, I was intrigued. When they signed actor Joel Kinnaman, a dependable presence on AMC's just-canceled series The Killing, to embody the title role, I was onboard. And when they added a panoply of reliable players like Gary Oldman, Samuel L. Jackson, and Michael Keaton to fill out the secondary parts, I started to get downright optimistic. And yet, despite that considerable build-up, this one is a swing and a miss.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Recommended Reading

David Kravets has a lengthy piece over at Wired illustrating how the boogeyman of terrorism is being used as a convenient way to justify some pretty egregious administrative oversights, irrespective of the person/party sitting in the White House. To wit:
FBI agent Kevin Kelley was investigating Muslims in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2004 when he checked the wrong box on a terrorism form, erroneously placing Rahinah Ibrahim on the no-fly list. 
What happened next was the real shame.
To find out what that was, click here.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Annals of Awkward

On the junket trail this morning to talk up the RoboCop remake, Samuel L. Jackson appeared on one of those vapid talking head shows out of LA. When veteran entertainment reporter Sam Rubin, who should presumably know better, confused Jackson with actor Laurence Fishburne, the exchange that followed immediately claimed a place in the Hall of Fame for squirm-inducing TV. Watch:

Recommended Reading

Jonathan Chait picks apart the latest anti-Obamacare attack line on the right, that by making workers less dependent on employer-based health coverage they may potentially exit the jobs market and thus damage the economy. Considering that portability of coverage allows for more likelihood of upward mobility in the job market -- which should be one of law's biggest selling points on the right -- this attack line is a bit of a head-scratcher, as Chait explains.

The MovieFilm Podcast: Episode 40

This week's MovieFilm adventure kicks off with us talking up our latest entertainment exploits, including The Lego Movie, The Monuments Men, Philomena, a documentary about iconic movie poster artist Drew Struzan, and the break-neck thrill-ride that is Downton Abbey.

Hollywood Headlines follow and there's much to discuss, what with recently leaked designs featuring the titular heroes of the upcoming Michael Bay produced Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, the decidedly unusual casting choice of Jessie Eisenberg as Lex Luther for the upcoming Batman vs. Superman flick, and a moment is taken to reflect on the untimely passing of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Then, inspired by the soon-to-be-released reboot, the MovieFilm trio look back on a Movie That Matters: the original 1987 RoboCop. It was the bombastically violent action film '80s sleepover movies were made of, and we share our thoughts on what it was like to watch it as kids, and again as adults.

Stream it below, or listen via iTunes or Stitcher (and be sure to leave us a review once you do!). As always, make sure to hit up our Facebook page to let us know how we're doing!

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Muppets Make Everything Better

As he bid a fond farewell to his Late Night gig (which aired its final new ep on Friday), on his way to slightly earlier pastures, Jimmy Fallon enlisted the aid of the Muppets to help deliver an unforgettable rendition of the Band's "The Weight." Enjoy:

Gotham Has its Gordon

A few months ago I mentioned the Gotham TV series that Warner Bros. had in active development at Fox. Given its connection to the Batman franchise, one of the most famous and lucrative brands of all time, it's understandable that the prequel series, tracking the pre-cape 'n' cowl years of Bruce Wayne's hellish hometown, has been on the fast-track, with the net skipping the usual pilot process and taking the skein straight to series.

One of the biggest question marks until now has been which actor they'd find to play the show's lead, rookie detective James Gordon (eventual police commissioner and confidante to the Dark Knight). Well, if yesterday's casting news is anything to go by, I'd say this project is off to an optimism-inducing start, with actor Benjamin McKenzie enlisted to brandish Gordon's badge. (No word if he'll also sport the character's trademark 'stache. My money's on "no.")

Nostalgia Theater: It's Hulk Hogan's Rock 'n' Wrestling, Brother!

I've always been confounded by the continued popularity of professional wrestling. I just can't begin to wrap my brain around the evergreen appeal of seeing a bunch of musclebound guys in colorful tights and vaguely defined "good guy"/"bad guy" groupings beating the tar out of each other. Makes no sense. At all. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna go sit in the corner and read an Avengers comic. What?

So, the World Wrestling Federation had already been around for decades, but the mid-'80s was kind of a sweet spot where they reached critical mass. The main component in this transition was one Terry Bollea, a.k.a. Hulk Hogan, whose outsize physique and persona were showcased in an extended cameo as "Thunderlips" in 1982's Rocky III, and who helped to bring in a whole new audience into watching this stuff. And then, next thing you know, we ended up with this:

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Diffused Congruence: Episode 5

For episode five of the show, Parvez Ahmed and I had an in-depth chat with Islamic scholar Dr. Muneer Fareed on a variety of topics, including the distinctions between secular and spiritual scholarship, what he learned during his time as an imam in Detroit, and his work with ISNA (the Islamic Society of North America), the ALIM Program, and more. You can download or stream the show below, as well as via iTunes (don't forget to leave us a review!). Send any questions and concerns our way at diffusedcongruence@gmail.com. Also, be sure to hit "like" on our official Facebook page!

Friday, February 07, 2014

Farewell to Jay Leno

Okay, this time it's for real.

One could be forgiven for feeling the slightest bit of déjà vu last night as Jay Leno retired from NBC's The Tonight Show (again), bringing out Billy Crystal (again) to be his final guest (again). After all, it was just under five years ago that Leno abdicated his talk show desk to Conan O'Brien, and while the subsequent game of musical chairs that ended with Leno resuming his role on top of the bill has been talked to death, yesterday's proceedings had an air of finality to them that wasn't there last time, when we all knew that Jay had a (short-lived) primetime yakker waiting for him in the wings.

Zaki's Review: The Monuments Men

With The Monuments Men, director/star George Clooney switches gears slightly from the high-minded political meditations of previous efforts such as 2006's Good Night and Good Luck and 2011's The Ides of March, and instead tries to re-capture some of the "caper" flavor of such seminal World War II opuses as The Great Escape and The Dirty Dozen. But despite enlisting a fine cast in service of an intriguing concept, the film is beset by problems of both tone and pacing, and marks the rare misfire from a helmer who usually evinces just as much self-assuredness behind the camera as he so easily embodies in front of it.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Honest Robo

MGM's much-anticipated (?) RoboCop remake hits next week, so we'll have to wait a few more days before we know whether that whole thing was worthwhile, but in the meantime, check out the new Honest Trailer looking at the original 1987 Robo flick to remind us once again why it remains the height of '80s awesome. Enjoy.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

The Best Lex We Ever Had?

Given the "bigness" of this news, and given the type of stuff I normally cover here, I'm a little embarrassed that I plum forgot to post on this until now. In case you were in a bomb shelter last Friday and didn't hear the Internet exploding into pieces (again), Warner Bros. has revealed who they've lined up for the crucial role of main Superman baddie Lex Luthor in 2016's Man of Steel sequel. After the rumor mill had been working overtime since last summer pumping out obvious names like Bryan Cranston, longshots like Denzel Washington, and out-of-the-box picks like Joaquin Phoenix, you could almost hear the air go out of the balloon when it was announced that actor Jesse Eisenberg had landed the coveted role of the bald-pated billionaire baddie.

In fact, such a prolonged head-scratch did this provoke across the web that it pretty much negated the companion news that consummate Brit Jeremy Irons is going to fill the role of manservant Alfred Pennyworth to Ben Affleck's Batman. Personally, I have no problems with Eisenberg as a performer. I liked him in Zombieland, and I liked him in The Social Network (for which he garnered an Oscar nom). But with the sort of stunted, social weirdos he's built his rep from playing, I just have a hard time seeing him embody the personal charisma I think is an integral part of Luthor (then again, previous Lex Kevin Spacey has bags of charisma, but he left most of it at home for his take). As with most of these things, I'm willing to take a wait-and-see, and Max Buxton over at CBR lays out his case for why everyone should leave let Lex be.

Lorne Michaels Owns the Night!

“The longer you’re on, the longer you’re on.” That's a mantra that uber-producer Lorne Michaels repeated to Conan O'Brien during the once-Late Night host's rocky early goings way back in 1993. But it's also a statement that could just as easily apply to the man himself. Having shepherded NBC warhorse Saturday Night Live for thirty-four of its thirty-nine seasons, Michaels knows a little something about the creation, care and maintenance of long-running institutions.

When Jimmy Fallon begins his stewardship of The Tonight Show on February 17, and Seth Myers locks in as the new face of Late Night on February 24, executive producer Michaels will own almost every piece of late night real estate on NBC. Given the sheer volume of his years in the production trenches, I'm always interested when Michaels has anything to say about anything, and in an expansive conversation with The Vulture, he offers plenty of nuggets from that accrued wisdom. Check out some highlights after the jump:

Monday, February 03, 2014

Transformers 4 is Coming. I Don't Care.

For no other reason than because I'm apparently expected to post it, here's the Super Bowl spot for this summer's fourth Transformers flick, titled Age of Extinction. After the nerve-deadening, Chicago-destroying antics of the last go-round in '11, I thought director Michael Bay was ready to move on, but Bay is back for this one even though we've swapped leading man Shia LaBeouf for Mark Wahlberg. I actually don't necessarily have a problem with that last part, but if these thirty seconds of audio and visual noise are anything to go by, it looks like I'll have plenty of other stuff to hate. Watch:

Coke Loses Key Racist Demographic

Last night during the Super Bowl, the Coca Cola company aired a very expensive advert that attempted to show, I guess, how regardless of race, color, or creed, everyone across the fruited plain, from sea to shining sea, enjoys partaking of a fizzy sugar drink that's actually pretty bad for you. Most people who saw the ad in question probably had some variation of "Cool," "Nice," or "Eh," as a response. (I was in the "eh" camp, m'self.) Of course, unlike those of us here in Realityville, to a lot of folks in the world of social media, those thirty seconds represented the latest Worst Thing Ever (If You're A Racist). The results, predictable as they are, have been preserved for posterity here. Read 'em, then weep.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Spidey Sequel Webs Super Bowl Spot

Meanwhile, close on Cap's heels is another sequel featuring a Marvel hero, this one hitting screens in just over three months. While I'm not as blown away by what we've seen thus far of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and the big villain-palooza Sony appears to be planning to entice jaded viewers through the turnstile, I'll obviously still be checking it out, so I'm not sure what my initial reaction is worth. Regardless, you can see part one of Sony's teaser below, which they dropped a few days ago, and then click past the jump for part two, which is the film's Super Bowl teaser:

Get Winterized With Captain America 2 Trailer

Captain America: The Winter Soldier hits theaters in just over two months, and if the latest assemblage dropped by Marvel Studios is anything to go by, they're determined to make that span seem as interminable as possible. If you don't believe me, watch the final trailer below and feel yourself getting fidgety. One thing I especially have to give them props for in this age of trailers giving away the farm is how they've restrained themselves from dropping the identity of the titular Winter Soldier, which is well known to longtime comic readers but will likely come as a well-earned surprise to anyone who jumped on with the first flick in '11.

Philip Seymour Hoffman, RIP

The first time I saw Philip Seymour Hoffman, he made me physically uncomfortable. That's how good he was. Playing the perverse, perpetually-frustrated neighbor Allen in directly Todd Solondz's squirm-inducing 1998 dark comedy Happiness, Hoffman made creepy compelling, and unnerving energizing. As time went on, I discovered his previous work like The Big Lebowski and Boogie Nights, and I soon came to anticipate his future appearances, whether in mainstream fare like Mission: Impossible III in '06, or more heady stuff like 2012's The Master. While he lacked the looks and build of a traditional leading man, Hoffman was the character actor's character actor, and a brief glance at his resume shows how much mileage he got out of being the consummate supporting player.

Nostalgia Theater: Thinkin' 'bout Thundarr

Lords of Light, have I have gotten a lot of requests for this one, and it's not hard to see why. Thundarr the Barbarian is one of the greatest adventures cartoons of all time. Period. Born in that magical nexus point in the early 1980s juuuuust after the time when animated adaptations of live action shows (like this one) had their run of kidvid, and juuuuust before licensed toy adaptations (like this one) took over, it fairly stands out in the annals of Saturday morning arcana by the simple virtue of being an entirely original series whose sole purpose was to get kids to tune in. I know, what a concept.

One of the earliest productions from '80s animation powerhouse Ruby-Spears, Thundarr was set two thousand years after a space-borne catastrophe has left the world in post-apocalyptic ruins. The titular hero travels the wrecked remains of the once-United States along with his two friends, the magical Princess Ariel and the animalistic (read: Chewbacca-inspired) Ookla the Mok, as they do battle with various monsters, wizards, and other baddies. There wasn't really an "arc," per se. That was pretty much it. When kids tuned in to ABC Saturday mornings in fall of 1980, this was what awaited them:

Saturday, February 01, 2014

INTERVIEW: Vera Farmiga on At Middleton, Bates Motel and The Conjuring

With her recent appearances headlining New Line's horror hit The Conjuring as well as the A&E prequel series Bates Motel, one could be forgiven for thinking that the chiller genre is Vera Farmiga's exclusive wheelhouse. However, the Up in the Air Oscar nominee has a long and storied resume (including Higher Ground, her 2011 directorial debut), and her most recent turn in director Glenn German's At Middleston (now playing) bespeaks her range as a performer.

The charming rom-com, about a meet-cute during a college tour, pairs Farmiga with fellow Oscar-nominee Andy Garcia, and also features her sister Taissa in the role of her daughter. I recently had a chance to speak with the actress about what drew her to this particular project, what advice she'd give to young women trying to get ahead in the industry, and whether she prefers to work in television or film. What follows are some highlights of that conversation: