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Forces of Geek: we like pop culture.

Published: Mar 5, 2015 11:15:37 PM
Forces of Geek features columns and commentary on all aspects of geek culture including pop culture, technology, art, television, comics, music, fashion, film, literature and video games. The premiere Geek Culture community online, forcesofgeek.com wants you to discover and embrace the unknown, the forgotten, and the beloved.
  • Mar 5, 2015 4:00:07 PM
    By Erin Maxwell

    Another month, another new crop of limited choices from your friendly neighborhood Netflix.

    As per your unread Netflix agreement, the streaming portion of the company can only offer the following each month:
    • One or two films you actually wanted to see.
    • A large handful of movies you saw a long time and forgot about, but will make great background chatter/white noise.
    • Films no one should ever want to see, even in an ironic I’m-wearing-a-Nickelback t-shirt way.

    That being said, let’s take a look at March offerings:

    Read more »
  • Mar 5, 2015 2:00:01 PM
    Review by Lily Fierro
    Lulu Anew
    Written and Illustrated by Étienne Davodeau
    Publisher by: NBM Publishing
    Cover Price: $27.99
    Diamond ID: JAN151512
    ISBN: 978-1-56163-972-4
    Published: April 2015

    In post 1950s America, the concept of the mid-life crisis has always brought up the thought of some outrageous sports car, an infidelity with someone far younger, or, more generally, some careless deviation from a male adult’s expected responsibilities, desires, and character.

    Often provoked by the realization that half of life (or more) has passed by and little has been done to actually enjoy life thus far beyond accomplishing societal or familial defined checkpoints, the mid-life crisis, as portrayed by media, tends to focus more on the affluent but is by no means unique to only that class or to men in general.

    In more recent times, we’ve also seen mid-life crises in media for mothers who have spent their entire lives dedicated to their families and have spent little or no time for themselves.

    These tend to manifest in a change in image or a desire to gain more education rather than the purchase of a Corvette but nonetheless involve a deviation from routine behavior occurring for the past few decades.

    The mid-life crisis is not a new concept for the general public, but there is certainly some room to explore how the mid-life crisis unfolds for a person who has nothing to lose from trying to resolve it.

    In Lulu Anew, Étienne Davodeau explores the mid-life crisis for Lulu, a working class woman, who upon failing to gain a job again for the sixteenth year in a row, decides to take a break from her life. Stuck in a loveless marriage with her brute husband Tanguy and tired of her only roles as mother and housekeeper, Lulu decides to not return home after her failed interview and spends a few weeks wandering, leaving her friends, children, and husband behind to attempt to track down her whereabouts and understand why she left.

    Read more »
  • Mar 5, 2015 12:00:04 PM
    “Hey, honey, Smitty’s at a toy show today,” my wife says to me as she lay in bed Sunday morning, while I shake off both the chill from walking the dog and the sleepiness from being out too late the previous night.

    Facebook serves many functions, and among them is a Magic 8-Ball quality.

    Ask it a question, and answers float to the surface. We’re in that what-am-I-doing-today phase of the morning when a friend posted his sale table at the toy show.

    Some showers and a quick drive through a light snow – seriously, more snow in New England – and soon enough we are enmeshed in toyland. And geektown.

    For this geek in particular, there’s nothing like toys to really get me going. I’ve written about toys in this space a few times, from favorite items to long pined-for hunks of plastic that got away.

    Toys are personal. They belong to you. As a child, playing with them lodges you deep within your own mind, playing out your own fantasy worlds and bending others’ creations to your will.

    For a geek in particular, toys are the introduction to adaptations.

    You see a cartoon or a movie, and you like it so much that you want your own little version of it for yourself. You play out the story and create your own. They’re the first fanfic, the first collection, the first material expression of fandom – the heart of geeking out on anything.

    We enter a Best Western hotel off an I-91 exit a town over from us. The bus for a small-college men’s basketball team sits in the parking lot, and several players lounge impatiently in the lobby. Oh dear, jocks and geeks all in the same place. Don’t make eye contact, keep walking down the hall before they shove you in a locker. (I kid, I kid.)

    The geek antennae ping fiercely as we enter the ballroom and find ourselves awash in 50-something years of pop culture.

    Read more »
  • Mar 5, 2015 10:00:05 AM
    March B rings WERNER HERZOG Collection; 16 Acclaimed Films Spanning Three Decades

    Tune in to the newly-launched SHOUT! FACTORY TV, a premiere digital entertainment streaming service that brings timeless and contemporary cult favorites to pop culture fans. With a uniquely curated entertainment library, the channel offers an unrivaled blend of cult TV shows, movies, comedy, original specials and more – presenting an exciting entertainment alternative to other streaming services.

    Discover, experience and binge-watch more than hundreds of hours of culture-defining entertainment for free on SHOUT! FACTORY TV by visiting ShoutFactoryTV.com on your desktop or through a mobile browser. Download the SHOUT! FACTORY TV app on Roku to watch through your television set.

    Full line-up of March programing after the jump.

    Read more »
  • Mar 4, 2015 6:00:02 PM

    New York Times bestselling author Walter Mosely, author of the beloved Easy Rawlins mystery series is releasing a new work of speculative fiction with Tor.  

    In Inside a Silver Box, two people brought together through a horrific rape and murder find themselves united and working together with the Silver Box for a common cause—to protect Earth from destruction by the Laz, an alien race that created and Silver Box and are now willing to do anything to get it back.  However, the Silver Box is the most powerful entity in the universe and it will do anything to prevent its former master from returning, even if it means destroying the Earth before the Lax can.   

    And we're giving away three copies to Forces of Geek readers!

    Read more »
  • Mar 4, 2015 4:00:02 PM
    Back in 2012, I interviewed Maine comic book artist and creator Jay Piscopo about his take on Captain Midnight, and his Kirby/Toth sendup Sea Ghost.

    Sea Ghost is just one of the many characters starring in the Capt’n Eli ‘Nemoverse’ that heads into its third volume of all ages friendly comic book fare.

    Jay will warn you this isn’t for kids, and I agree—this is just great comic book storytelling. And the fact that he draws like the aforementioned masters doesn’t make me want to turn away.

    Jay joins us on the Cosmic Treadmill this week to plumb to the depths of The Undersea Adventures of Capt’n Eli Vol. 3 as well as his awesome action figure for Sea Ghost — sure to be a hit with Mego collectors!

    Read more »
  • Mar 4, 2015 2:00:01 PM
    There are some issues of comic books that are just filled with wall to wall action, the type of nonsensical Tom and Jerry meet Michael Bay on meth violence that makes you stop caring that there’s no real deeper meaning for a few minutes as you’re content to just ride the virtual shockwave of the explosions to the final page.

    And, you know what?

    I love those issues.

    Sure, they may not be thought-provoking (except to ask how in the hell Emma Frost’s costume stays in place while she’s got worlds blowing up around her), but they’re very often what comics, at heart, should be—fun.

    Seriously, I’m pretty sure her breasts will fall out
    if she so much as looks too hard at that apple.

    But there’s a place for the quieter issues, too.

    Read more »
  • Mar 4, 2015 12:00:00 PM

    The Painting, a horror-comedy that celebrates the Grand Guignol style of filmmaking makes its World Premiere, March 21st at the 12th Annual Garden State Film Festival.

    The third feature film from Award-winning indie writer/director Robert Rothbard (Pizza With Bullets - Best Screenplay - Action on Film International Film Festival; Best Director - Syracuse Film Festival; Platinum Remy - Best Comedy – WorldFest Houston), and artist/first time writer-producer Sally Lamb, The Painting stars Robert Homer Mollohan, recently seen in Jason Momoa’s Road to Paloma (“Game of Thrones” and Batman v Superman) and Wolves by David Hayter (X-Men, X-Men 2).

    The dilemma facing Edward Alfonso Lexington (Mollohan), a spoiled, pretentious, talent-less “artiste” and son of a world renowned deceased artist is…what is one to do when they don’t have the talent to follow in their famous father’s footsteps? Edward will stop at nothing to be as famous as his father, as he lures unsuspecting artists to his home to paint, then signs his name to their art, and afterwards, makes them disappear - one at a time. But he may have met his match when he crosses paths with an artist/voodoo Queen, who has her own plan in mind for Edward.

    The Grand Guignol was a theatre in the Pigalle area of Paris from 1897 until its closing in 1962. It specialized in naturalistic horror shows. Its name is often used as a general term for graphic horror entertainment. Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, Sweeney Todd, Freaks and the films of acclaimed Italian director Dario Argento are generally considered to be Grand Guignol style films.

    The Garden State Film Festival (GSFF) was born in 2002 after a chance encounter in a Sea Girt, New Jersey grocery store by film industry veteran Diane Raver and late actor Robert Pastorelli. The Festival premiered in 2003 and was immediately deemed a huge success. Since that time, industry notables such as Glenn Close, James Gandolfini, Budd Schulberg, Bruce Springsteen, Diane Ladd and others have lent their support.

    GSFF provides a wide range of outreach and educational programs throughout the entire year. The prestigious event is held in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

    After the jump, check out the trailer for The Painting.

    Read more »
  • Mar 4, 2015 10:00:00 AM
    Gordon is fed up with Commissioner Loeb allowing corruption to run amok in the GCPD and has decided it’s time to find what skeletons are hiding in his closet and use that leverage against him.

    He enlists the aide of Harvey Dent to do some digging as well as The Penguin himself.

    Meanwhile, Fish finds herself face-to-face with her captor and discovers the what dark secrets are behind her current prison.

    Read more »
  • Mar 3, 2015 7:14:11 PM
    “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” and “Interstellar” roar with 11 and 10 nominations respectively, “Guardians of the Galaxy” rocks 9,” followed closely by Apes, Tom Cruise, Hobbits, X-Men and Fairy Tale Folk for the 41st Annual Saturn Awards, while “The Walking Dead” and “Hannibal” top TV nominations in a Stellar Year for Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror

    The 2015 Saturn Award nominees have been announced. They were announced earlier today during a live stream from theStream.tv studios in Hollywood. The announcements were hosted by Chase Masterson of Star Trek: Deep Space 9.  Doug Jones of Hellboy and Naomi Grossman of American Horror Story read the list of nominees in each category.

    Comic book movies and TV shows were very well represented among this year's nominees. On the movie side, Captain America: The Winter Soldier scored 11 nominations followed by Guardians of the Galaxy with 9 nominations and X-Men: Days of Future Past with 5 nominations. On the TV side, The Walking Dead scored 7 nominations and Agent Carter and The Flash picked up 3 nominations each.

    See the full list after the jump

    Read more »
  • Mar 3, 2015 4:00:02 PM

    This week (specifically yesterday), marks what would have been Dr. Seuss' 111th birthday.

    Theodor Seuss Geisel was a notable cartoonist and writer and took on the pen name Dr. Seuss, going on to create 46 children's books, among them: Green Eggs and Ham, The Cat in the Hat, The Lorax, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins, Fox in Socks, The King's Stilts, Hop on Pop, Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose, Horton Hatches the Egg, Horton Hears a Who!, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas!.

    To celebrate Dr. Seuss and all that his work has meant to generation after generation of young readers, we've teamed up with our friends at TV Store Online to give away a Seuss-centric prize package!

    Read more »
  • Mar 3, 2015 2:00:03 PM
    Thunderbirds are GO!

    In 5…4…3…2…1...Thunderbirds are GO!

    This summer, get ready to blast off with the team at International Rescue when Timeless Media Group, a division of Shout! Factory LLC, releases the highly anticipated Gerry Anderson show Thunderbirds: The Complete Series on Blu-ray and DVD on June 9th, 2015.

    Available for the first time on Blu-ray, the re-mastered high-definition transfer showcases the Supermarionation technique in exquisite detail never before seen, and promises audiences of all ages an outstanding showcase of thrills, action, and adventure with no (okay, maybe some) strings attached.

     Featuring all 32 episodes of the popular science-fiction series in a 6 BR or 8 DVD set, Thunderbirds: The Complete Series also includes the documentary “Launching Thunderbirds”, which includes a never before seen interview with Gerry Anderson, and a vintage publicity brochure as bonus features.

    Fans can pre-order their copies now by visiting ShoutFactory.com

    Read more »
  • Mar 3, 2015 12:00:00 PM
    Interview Conducted by Todd Sokolove at SXSW '14

    One of the highlights from last year's SXSW Film Festival was the full-length documentary about legendary career character-actor Dick Miller (reviewed here), appropriately titled That Guy Dick Miller.

    If the photograph of the man above looks familiar it's because Miller has appeared in over 100 films and dozens of television shows including Gremlins, Gremlins 2: The New Batch, The Explorers, Piranha, The Howling, A Bucket of Blood, The Little Shop of Horrors, Chopping Mall, Night of the Creeps, The Terminator, The 'Burbs, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, After Hours, Used Cars and Small Soldiers.

    The documentary has now played several festivals, including the prestigious Sitges Festival in Spain.

    It opens Friday, March 6th in Los Angeles, and rolls out to Toronto, New York, Minneapolis, Detroit and Dallas thereafter. thatguydickmiller.com for details.

    I had a chance to catch up with director Elijah Drenner (American Grindhouse), in Austin, where we geeked out over cult films and talked over the details of this amazing tribute to Dick Miller...

    Read more »
  • Mar 3, 2015 10:00:02 AM

    New York Toy Fair is over, and Diamond Select Toys is ready to start production on some of the brand-new items that were unveiled at the event!

    Nearly a dozen new items are in the new issue of Diamond Comic Distributors’ Previews catalog, including Godzilla, Supergirl, Shredder, Sabretooth and Rick Grimes, and you can place your pre-orders today through your local comic shop, your favorite online retailer, and the official DST website!

    Find your nearest comic shop at ComicShopLocator.com!

    Read more »
  • Mar 5, 2015 11:15:38 PM

    If you're anywhere in the Northeast there's a pretty good chance it's been snowing for the past month and even though we're now in March, the continuing Snowpocalypse doesn't seem to be letting up any time soon.

    Fortunately, there's plenty of stuff to watch including several recent Academy Award winners as well as dozens of other choices from highbrow to lowbrow.

    Fire up that queue and prep that shopping cart. It's that time of the week.

    Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance

    20th Century Fox / Released 2/17/15

    Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance is a black comedy from co-writer/director Alejandro G. Inarritu that tells the story of an actor (Michael Keaton) - famous for portraying an iconic superhero - as he struggles to mount a Broadway play as he faces harsh critics, a deranged alter ego, his estranged daughter (Emma Stone) and a difficult stage star (Edward Norton). Also starring Naomi Watts and Zach Galifianakis. Extras include conversation between Keaton and Inarritu, a gallery and featurette.

    Last Word: Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s very meta introspective black comedy Birdman is about an actor (Michael Keaton) – famous for portraying an iconic superhero – as he struggles to mount a Broadway play.

    What this film really is a a study of life, love, friendship, ego, insanity, family and loss. It is also one of the best movies I have seen in the last 10 years. Birdman triumphs at getting to the root of what what it means to be human through analyzing the downfalls of celebrity and what it means to live forever in the public consciousness. Riggan Thomson (Keaton) is a washed up former blockbuster movie star who once starred in one of the biggest comic book movie franchises of all time, Birdman. Sound familiar? Well it should.

    Birdman is Michael Keaton.  Michael Keaton IS Birdman.

    Keaton’s seems to be delving deep into his own experiences of being the first screen Dark Knight and his subsequent walking away from a role that almost consumed him. His flaws are his greatest strength, both as the character and as an actor. No one else could have sold this role more than him. Both for the obvious reasons of his turn as Batman but also, Keaton is so beautiful at the crazy over-the-top however unlike so many of his fellow comedic actors, his subtleness and quiet do not get lost in the frenzy. He takes his time and is patient and loving to the sensitive. If for no other reason, you should go see this movie to watch stellar acting from a sometimes underrated master of his craft.

    Keaton is not alone in this film and his supporting cast is not so much supporting but also the stars of this film as well and deserve equal accolades. I really wish there was an academy Award for Best Ensemble Cast because sometimes a films cast isn’t so much a bunch of actors but a homogenous entity breathing life into an already phenomenal piece.

    Naomi Watts, who is Lesley, is an up and coming actress who is making her Broadway debut in Riggan’s play and this is the beginning and the end of everything she holds to be important in her life. It’s success and/or failure, in her mind, parallels her own. Everything she is, is counting on this play being a hit. That is why, when they lose one of their actors to a freak accident, she risks everything to recommend her sometimes, outrageous but talented boyfriend, Mike (Edward Norton) to take the role. Even though she knows it may be more trouble than it’s worth.

    Norton’s portrayal as Mike Shiner, the very difficult to work with “actor/artist” is sublime. The casting here for everyone is crucial and not done lightly. As Norton is known to be in real life, Shiner is in the movie. Known to be a loose cannon and to outbursts of crazy, Shiner is hired because his reputation as one of the theater’s greatest actors of his generation is guaranteed to bring in audiences and brilliant reviews. Immediately Riggan and Mike butt heads on creativity and intent.

    Zach Galifianakis, is a bit of role reversal, plays probably the most sane character in the film. As Riggan’s friend, lawyer, and producer of the play, Jake basically spends the entire film just trying to hold the production together and afloat amidst actor clashes, law suits, mental breakdowns and money issues. He is subtle and the exact opposite of his usual zany portrayals we are used to seeing him in.

    Emma Stone  is brilliant as Riggan’s ex-junkie daughter, just out of rehab and getting her life back together. Her presence in Riggan’s life and in this film symbolize the redemption and forgiveness sought by everyone for past transgressions both from others and from ourselves.

    Rounding out the cast are the phenomenal Lindsay Duncan  as cold hearted theater reviewer, Tabitha. Amy Ryan as Riggan’s caring ex-wife, Sylvia. Andrea Riseborough is amazing as Laura, Riggan’s lover and co-star in the play.

    Aside from the acting and story, two other aspects that truly make this a fantastic film are the music and the cinematography. Both are crucial and hinge on each other to work. The first thing you will notice is the soundtrack. Not only does it set the mood of the film, it also dictates the pace of the film. The Mexican drummer Antonio Sanchez, one of the best in the world, sets the tone and rhythm as we journey with Riggan through his self-discovery, defeat and reflection of self. After the music, and along with the music you will note that there is something different about the “cutting” and shooting of this film. There are not “cuts” Through the use of Stedicam and hand-held cameras, this film is seamlessly tied together, digitally, into one continuous shot. From beginning to end, there isn’t a visible edit throughout. This has the effect of not only making the camera, the location of the theater and New York itself, a character of the film. It is also used, in conjunction with the erratic and skillful drumbeat music, to heighten the manic insanity that Riggan reaches even that much more erratic and makes the subsequent crescendo that much more intense.  ( Benn Robbins)

    Horrible Bosses 2

    Warner Bros. / Released 2/24/15

    Nick, Dale and Kurt decide to become their own bosses by launching a business. After a slick investor deceives them, they hatch a misguided plan to get their company back.  Extras include featurettes and alternate one-liners.

    Last Word:  Hollywood returns to the well once again for another sequel that questions it’s own existence.  Thankfully, the familiar television and movie stars making up the ensemble cast do have their moments, and Horrible Bosses 2 isn’t a complete waste of time. Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day reprise their roles as Nick, Kurt and Dale and become their own bosses unleashing a new product "The Shower Buddy" onto the world. Jennifer Aniston and Kevin Spacey return as well, along with mastermind “Motherfucker” Jones — Jamie Foxx.

    Added this time around are the father/son team of leading man Chris Pine and Basterd Chrisopher Waltz.

    If you like to tune out here’s a movie for you, with some funny moments, but the spark isn’t as bright as the original concept or the director Sean Ander’s last effort behind the camera, Adam Sandler’s That’s My Boy.

    Nick, Kurt and Dale start their own company with some startup funding from Bert Hanson (Waltz). When Hanson cancels his order for the units of “The Shower Buddy”, the company goes under and the the boys go after kidnapping Hanson’s son Rex (Pine) for the ransom money. As a side note, the blueprints for the “The Shower Buddy” look like the Starship Enterprise, with shampoo and conditioner as the engines to the shower head hull. Well played, Easter Egg hunters!

    Bateman and Day play much the same characters they do on Arrested Development and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and as you may have guessed there is not much of a stretch from We’re The Millers for Sudeikis. This is all fine, as you can tell from the outtake credit scenes for both of the Bosses movies, the team works together for getting the laughs. Bateman’s hilarious straight man has worked for him since the Bluth days, Charlie Day is still coming into his own, and we can see from these past movies that Jason Sudeikis would be an obvious choice to take the Fletch Won prequel job.

    Antagonists from the first film, Kevin Spacey and Jennifer Aniston add some good color to the movie, but Spacey is just barely there, being imprisoned from his actions in the first movie. If anyone sighed over his appearance in this film, I would have imagined it was Spacey, last seen on my screen this year as the serious Southerner Frank Underwood in House of Cards.

    Aniston (Dr. Julia Harris, D.D.S.) fits better with the boys in the ensemble comedic cast. Her sex addiction has gotten worse, but at least she is seeking the help of a 12-step sex addict group. She moves her attention away from Dale (Day) and to Nick (Bateman) this time around and has some of the best lines in the picture. On top of that, she continues to look stunning in both her dentist outfits as well as her S&M getups! Truly, Aniston is having a comedic renaissance with Bosses and We’re the Millers.

    Starfleet Captain Chris Pine is the frosted tipped rich son of Waltz, and — spoiler warning — ends up being the big bad when he gets in on his own kidnapping, making everything worse for Nick, Kurt and Dale.

    Horrible Bosses 2 is all about the star power driving a mediocre plot and another third act car chase scene. Foxx’s Jones, a sort of criminal ‘advisor’ has some moments with the guys sprinkled throughout the movie, but like Spacey was only contracted to get people to buy tickets to the thing.

    The guys are funny, Aniston is funny, just don’t overthink it or think this movie compares to your memories of the first installment. They can probably stop here. (– Clay N Ferno)

    Game Of Thrones: The Complete Fourth Season 

    HBO / Released 2/17/15

    In this thrilling fourth season based on George R.R. Martin's bestselling books, the Lannisters' control over the Iron Throne remains intact, but can they survive their own egos as well as the ongoing threats around them? While an unshaken Stannis Baratheon continues to rebuild his army on Dragonstone, a more immediate danger comes from the south, as Oberyn Martell, the Lannister-loathing "Red Viper of Dorne," arrives at King's Landing to attend Joffrey's wedding. At the Wall, the Night's Watch seems overmatched against Mance Rayder's advancing army of wildlings, which in turn is being trailed by an even more formidable foe. What's more, Daenerys Targaryen, accompanied by her fierce trio of dragons and an Unsullied army, is poised to 'liberate' Meereen, the largest Slaver City in the east, which could provide her with an imposing force to execute her ultimate plan of reclaiming the Iron Throne for her family. Extras include commentaries, round table discussion, blooper reel, deleted scenes, interviews and featurettes.

    Last Word: Many would have thought they could exhale after the brutal Red Wedding of season three, however, as Westeros trudges to what seems the end of the war without the Starks, we are reunited and introduced to characters that continue to do what Game of Thrones does best – shock us.

    The Lannisters still own King’s Landing, although without the Northern army threatening the crown the lion’s hold of the Iron Throne somehow seems looser than ever. With the Tyrell’s maneuvering their way into the royal blood lines, and the introduction of Oberyn Martell – known as the Red Viper of Dorne – our favorite family from Casterly Rock has more than enough to worry about. Across the Narrow Sea the Khaleesi continues to liberate and rule Slaver’s Bay, although there isn’t much of the Mother of Dragons halfway through this season. It is absolutely delightful that Jon Snow is reunited with his brothers in black back at Castle Black, and the battle for The Wall storyline proves to be the best part of the first five episodes. Dispersed in between these three hotspots are the wonderful storyline of Arya and The Hound, a return to The Vale of Arryn along with Littlefinger, and the cringe-worthy Bolton house trying to put their stamp on the North.

    The Lannisters, which have been the bread and butter of the series, continue to be as dysfunctional as ever. There isn’t the happiest of reunions between Jaime and his family members, especially his sister. Without his sword hand the Kingslayer finds life a bit without meaning at first, but continues to serve as Lord Commander of the Kingsguard. Charles Dance’s acting as Tywin Lannister is absolutely perfect, as we can see how each of his children came to be the people they are. There isn’t as much Tyrion as previous seasons, but when Peter Dinklage is on screen he sets it on fire. It is safe to say the Royal Wedding doesn’t go as planned, and Westeros is better off for it, but it will be interesting to see how the show copes.

    The feeling of the rest of Westeros is quite grim, as it should be with the departure of Robb and Catelyn Stark. Winter is indeed coming as the scenery is gray, wet and moody. This doesn’t do The Hound any favors as his quest to get Arya to her Aunt Lysa involves stealing, drinking and swearing – I suppose that isn’t far off from the character we saw protecting Joffrey in King’s Landing. The images from the regions north of the capital are quite gruesome, but if you’ve gotten this far then you know what to expect from this HBO gem.

    Unfortunately, one of the downfalls of this season is there seems to be too many filler scenes. It is to be expected a bit after the murder of the aforementioned Starks, but the show hasn’t completely recovered, even if viewers have. For example, there is a long and drawn out scene involving a White Walker that seems quite foolish. One of the best parts of Thrones is its ability to make us believe in this world. The show runners have never relied on the fantasy and magic element to enthrall us. If you’re watching for the dragons or the Red Woman’s fire magic, then you’re not watching for the right reasons. David Benioff and D.B. Weiss go a little overboard this season with the fantasy, but like previous seasons, it seems they are saving up for a big penultimate episode to wow us again.

    Despite the stutters mentioned above, season four of Game of Thrones is still phenomenal. The politics and drunk on power characters are as entangled as ever and one can only expect all Hell to break loose by the finale. While not as strong as season one or two, this campaign seems to be doing its job so far – setting up the next one. (– Nate Davis)


    Sony / Released 2/24/15

    Andrew Neyman is an ambitious young jazz drummer, single-minded in his pursuit to rise to the top of his elite east coast music conservatory. Plagued by the failed writing career of his father, Andrew hungers day and night to become one of the greats. Terence Fletcher, an instructor equally known for his teaching talents as for his terrifying methods, leads the top jazz ensemble in the school. Fletcher discovers Andrew and transfers the aspiring drummer into his band, forever changing the young man's life. Andrew's passion to achieve perfection quickly spirals into obsession, as his ruthless teacher continues to push him to the brink of both his ability-and his sanity.  Extras include featurette, original short film, commentary, deleted scene, and An Evening at the Toronto International Film Festival.

    Last Word: Exhilarating and provocative, this film hits hard.  It’s a truly visceral experience, tense and exciting. From the moment the film begins, be aware that there won’t be one relaxing moment. And it’s incredible.

    The plot of this movie is unlike other musical productions, if there is even a plot at all. No prestigious competition to win, no personal hardship or vendetta that must be overcome or redeemed. Whiplash is about artistic obsession.

    Studying at the most prestigious conservatory in the country, Andrew Neyman (Miles Teller) has a very specific goal – he doesn’t want to be great, he wants to be “one of the greats”, and that distinction is important to note.

    The very premise of Whiplash is the cost of greatness. Picked to perform in the studio band by the most notorious instructor in the school, Terence Fletcher, played with phenomenal verve by J.K. Simmons, Andrew enters into a brutal engagement that pushes his physical and emotional capabilities well beyond their limits.

    Teller’s performance is excruciating and beautiful. The actor brings heartbreaking ferocity and maturity to the screen. In brief quiet moments his small smile reveals subtle elation accentuated by his genuine blush. In grotesque moments he exerts himself completely, sweating and bleeding all over his drum kit. And you are right beside him the entire film feeling his anxiety and passion.

    Damien Chazelle keeps his camera close for each shot, panning on, in and around the musicians’ faces, instruments, broken blisters, blood, spit, sweat and tears. The intense effect is overwhelming and enthralling. Tom Cross’ editing is something to be admired – he captures every detail of passion and exhaustion. The fast, crisp cuts match perfectly with the musical rhythm of the film; Chazelle and Cross have created a powerful and immersive experience.

    Enter J.K. Simmons, as Terence Fletcher, always clad in black and perfectly polished shoes that click and clack on the floor in a steady intimidating rhythm.  His tempo. His tempo. His. Fucking. Tempo. When his fist clenches you’re held in awful suspension and are completely trapped by his searing blue eyes.  Simmons isn’t Simmons in this role. He is fit and strong in stature, a flawless embodiment of cruelty. His character’s brutal tutelage is grounded in the belief that greatness can only be achieved through critically bludgeoning his students with offensively personal insults and humiliation. Positive reinforcement is a plague for aspiring talent. Fletcher’s cruelty is never meant to be justified or reasoned with, it’s simply a mechanism for motivation.

    This is where the film is spectacular and provocative. How far is too far if the end game produces truly historic talent? There isn’t a happy resolution. There isn’t a problem to be resolved. This movie is displays the degrading progression of stamina and devotion. Whiplash presents the controversial ethics of maximizing and enhancing talent with oppressively cruel instruction, regardless of consequential emotional and physical decay. Do we want Fletcher or Neyman to be any different? Is their relationship an apex of sado-masochism where both parties yield sick pleasure for the sake of success, therefore making the incorrigible behavior acceptable?  It’s sick, it’s beautiful, relentless and awe-inspiring. (– Caitlyn Thompson)

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  • Mar 2, 2015 2:00:02 PM
    In the 80s, there was this weird notion that the most hilarious thing ever was when a child is brought in from the cold into a super-wealthy family. “Why,” you might ask, “would that be so appealing?”

    Could it be the socioeconomic status of the country?

    Or could it possibly be the awkward transition of the “me” generation into a more responsible group?

    Hell, I dunno. What do I look like, some college book learned guy?

    I mean, I guess you don’t know WHAT I look like – I might not even be the REAL Charles Knauf.

    Might this be the real Charles Knauf?

    But I digress…

    In this installment of Flashback to the Present, I’m taking a look at that lil’ rascal who was taken in by someone of the upper crust.

    Who could this be?

    No, not Ricky in Silver Spoons. No, not Arnold from Diff’rent Strokes.

    No, not Penelope "Punky" Brewster from Punky Brewster.

    I’m talking about the one, the only Webster Long from the 1983 show Webster.

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  • Mar 2, 2015 11:00:00 AM
    A look at which books won the big Oscars this year.

    In case you need another reason to travel the world and visit some truly amazing bookstores.

    For those looking to try reading some romance for the first time, here's where you should start.

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  • Mar 2, 2015 8:30:00 AM
    Nilah Magruder’s Web Comic, M.F.K. Becomes The Award's First Recipient

    Nilah Magruder’s web comic, M.F.K. became the first-ever recipient of the Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity, presented at Long Beach Comics Expo.

    “Nilah Magruder’s M.F.K. is a great read,” said Matt Wayne, the Director of the Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity. “Nilah created an incredibly engaging post-apocalyptic fantasy world peopled with a broad array of characters. In terms of both excellence and inclusiveness, this is just the sort of comic the Award was created for."

    The Award is named after Dwayne McDuffie, the influential comics and animation writer who passed away in 2011 and who was known for creating superhero properties for Marvel and DC comics that included diverse casts of characters.

    The Award was presented to Magruder by Charlotte McDuffie, Dwayne McDuffie’s widow. The keynote address was given by writer-director-producer Reginald Hudlin.

    “This award isn’t about honoring Dwayne,” Wayne said. “Dwayne wouldn’t have stood for that. The Selection Committee had to choose between five worthy nominees, and those works and their creators are what we celebrate today.”

  • Mar 2, 2015 9:45:12 AM

    You know when you see a movie so far away from actuality that it’s compulsive viewing? Well, one movie that you have to see in this regard if you haven’t already is the 1944 film all about the Grand National – National Velvet. It stars a young Elizabeth Taylor along with Mickey Rooney.

    It’s a good family film, but is even better in a geek’s ironic way for the manner in which it portrays an idyllic England and the race itself.

    Of course, this is a time of year in England when people everywhere start keeping a close eye on the horse racing analysis and tips as the race approaches. This year, it will be held on April 11th and pretty much all of the UK has a bet.

    But back in 1944, it seems it was a very different world.

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  • Feb 27, 2015 7:00:00 PM

    Let’s see what I fixated on in the dead of night at various times throughout this past week…

    1.    Why can’t my Pikachu be as awesome as the one on TV?

    No matter the game, try as I might, I can never seem to catch, train or trade a Pikachu that is actually worth a shit.

    That Pikachu on TV?

    That asshole is one episode from curing genital herpes. Meanwhile, all of mine, at best, are just... OK.

    And don’t give me that horse shit about the one on the cartoon being special. I’ve taken down Team Rocket, Team Plasma and Team Flare. Alone!

    If anyone deserves a special Pikachu it’s me!

    Goddamnit, it’s me…

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  • Feb 27, 2015 5:00:00 PM
    I’ve never really mentioned prosthetics or special effects makeup in very much detail in any of my columns before.

    It isn’t something I have done much of myself, because for those amazingly realistic finishes you see in the movies, it takes time, practise and wisdom that only comes from experience.

    Special effects makeup itself is an art form and can really make a movie, so I sincerely apologise for overlooking something so vital to cinema and costume until now.

    In terms of SFX makeup, 2014 was a good year. X Men: Days of Future Past, Horns, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and I, Frankenstein, for instance. all had some cool makeup that looked impressive on screen and has probably left some cosplayers itching to try it out for themselves.

    The award winning He Took His Skin Off For Me, a release from last year that may have slipped under your radar, has probably some of the best SFX makeup a budding cosplayer can hope to learn from. It’s basically a Kick Starter funded, gory and touching 101 of the human anatomy, and their website even has a link to "how to" tutorials.

    If makeup for film and special effects is something that interests you, or you just want to be grossed out and moved at the same time then you should really see this short.

    By Ben Aston

    I managed to get hold of the sculptor and artist Thomas Smith, known for his work on Thor: The Dark World, Dark Shadows, Maleficent, World War Z and Ridley Scott’s recent Exodus to ask him about his creative input on He Took His Skin Off For Me.

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  • Feb 27, 2015 3:00:03 PM
    By Erin Maxwell

    This morning, actor, director and writer Leonard Nimoy passed away after battling chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

    His long and esteemed career in the entertainment industry is best marked by his turn as Spock on Star Trek. Adorned with spiked ears, high-arched eyebrows and his stoic demeanor, Nimoy’s Spock became an iconic character on both the small and large screen, a character wisdom forever influenced generations of fans, as well as pop culture itself.

    But Nimoy was more than the Vulcan he portrayed. There was a time where his acting chops depended on more than just ears and logic.

    Here is a look back on a few of his early TV roles.

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  • Feb 27, 2015 1:00:05 PM
    Robots (or "iron men" or "mechanical men") occupy one of the most important positions in science fiction film history.

    Some great classic robots appeared in color, like Robby from Forbidden Planet, 1956, or Gog and Magog from Gog, 1954.

    But since most robots are silver and gray anyway, they rarely suffer from appearing in black and white.

    Depending on how you define "robot" you might mention the mechanical "statue" from The Mechanical Statue and the Ingenious Servant (a 1907 short, apparently lost) or the mechanical "dummy" from A Clever Dummy (a 1917 short), both of which make very brief appearances.  If androids count as robots, then you might mention "Frank" from Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster (1965).

    I'm going to list "real" robots in feature films - the ones everyone would recognize as robots.

    The earliest robots were super tough and super strong.  Most were silent, even when appearing in sound films.  Not until the 1950s did robots attain beam weapons, computer brains, or other special abilities.

    It's notable that almost every robot is evil, or put to an evil purpose, until Gort in 1951.  And even Gort's purpose is debatable.

    So here is a rundown of robots in black and white sci-fi films, going back to the very beginning.

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  • Feb 27, 2015 1:28:22 PM

    He was Spock.  He was Not Spock.  He was Spock.

    Actor, director, photographer, poet, singer Leonard Nimoy has passed following a short hospitalization for end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a diagnosis which he had shared with the public last year.

    Boston born Nimoy appeared in a number of B-pictures, serials and television guest shots including Zombies of the Stratosphere, Perry Mason, Them!, The Twilight Zone, Sea Hunt, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Gunsmoke and the Outer Limits, before taking on the role that gained him prominence on Gene Roddenberry's series Star Trek.

    Nimoy portrayed Mr. Spock, a green blooded half-Human half-Vulcan science officer of the U.S.S. Enterprise.  Broadcast from 1966 to 1969, Nimoy's performance earned him three Emmy nominations and international fame.

    His relationship with Trek was a complicated one, battling typecasting and when a revival of the series, Star Trek Phase II was initially announced, Nimoy would only commit to a recurring role.  Eventually, Phase II evolved into Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Nimoy appeared in six Trek films and also directed two of the films, The Search for Spock and The Voyage Home.  Nimoy voiced Spock in an animated series, and appeared in two episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation and was the only actor from the original series to appear in both of director J.J. Abrams' Star Trek reimaginings.

    Nimoy's interests in the arts served him well, with successful forays in poetry, music, photography and stage acting.  He appeared in such plays as Vincent, Fiddler on the Roof, Camelot, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, The King and I, Caligula, Twelfth Night, Sherlock Holmes, Equus, and My Fair Lady.

    In addition Nimoy directed a number of projects including Three Men and a Baby, The Good Mother and Funny About Love and includes among his countless acting credits Mission: Impossible, A Woman Called Golda, Fringe, Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Simpsons and Futurama. He also hosted the iconic seventies series, In Search Of...

    Nimoy was a man, but became an icon and influence on millions of people's lives.  He lived long, he prospered, and now logical or not, he's gone.  But will never be forgotten.

    Check out some clips of Mr. Nimoy after the jump.

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  • Feb 27, 2015 9:00:03 AM

    Skating To New York is a contemporary coming-of-age adventure about five boys on a small-town Canadian high school hockey team, who live to skate. After losing a big game, they decide to do something never attempted before - skate across Lake Ontario to New York on the coldest day of the year.

    Starring Connor Jessup ("Falling Skies"), Gage Munroe (I Declare War), Dylan Everett ("Degrassi: The Next Generation") and Jason Gedrick (Backdraft), Skating To New York is a story about home and friendship, about leadership and facing danger, and about growing up - but never giving up.

    And we're giving away three copies!

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