True Crime isn’t a new fad, but in the last several years, thanks to buzzworthy podcasts and binge-worthy series (usually on Netflix), there’s been a considerable boom in the genre. More often than not, these entries fit into a formula – a cookie-cutter set-up and follow-through that, while often engrossing and even captivating, rarely treads new ground. Which is part of what makes I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, the new HBO docuseries adapted from the book by the late Michelle McNamara, stand out. This isn’t just another True Crime docuseries. It’s a game-changer.
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Whenever a new movie comes out, there are featurettes that show us generic footage of the cast and crew in production, whether it’s on-location or somewhere on the studio backlot. There are interviews providing vague information about the story and characters along with some sneak peeks of the movie we’ve yet to see. Even the traditional special features included on home video releases of movies don’t often dig much deeper than that. But Into the Unknown: Making Frozen 2, a new documentary series available exclusively on Disney+ starting on June 26, provides an unprecedented look at the creative process of making a Walt Disney Animation production, showing the challenges of making a movie that is being anticipated by millions of fans around the world, including moments where production doesn’t always go so smoothly. Read More »
If you know Perry Mason at all, you likely know the character from the long-running late ’50s, early ’60s TV legal drama starring Raymond Burr as the famous lawyer who was known for getting suspects to blurt out confessions while on the witness stand. The roots of the character go back even further, from a series of novels starting in the 1930s to a radio serial that ran from the mid-1940s until the mid-’50s.
But HBO’s new pulpy, hard-boiled Perry Mason series wants you to forget about (most) of that. Instead, it sets out to be a gritty origin story – a prequel, even. Characters who exist in the Perry Mason canon all pop-up here, albeit in new forms. And then there’s Perry Mason himself, who starts the series off not as a savvy courtroom attorney, but rather a down-and-out private eye.
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The last time actor Steve Carell and writer/producer Greg Daniels teamed up, it resulted in The Office on NBC, a show that initially stumbled in the shadow of its British predecessor but became one of the greatest television comedies of the 21st century. Now Carell and Daniels have ventured out on their own with Space Force, an original workplace comedy coming to Netflix that takes a cue from the real life creation of a space warfare branch of the U.S. Armed Forces. Unfortunately, while the series literally shoots for the moon, it has a hard time staying focused in a number of ways, from a fluctuating, inconsistent comedic tone to meandering, insignificant sideplots. It’s not a complete mess, but it certainly doesn’t feel ready for launch. Read More »
Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian continues to provide fascinating insights into the making of the first live-action Star Wars series. One aspect of the production we’ve covered previously was the innovative Stagecraft technology used to create immersive virtual environments in real time and in-camera, rather than the standard green screen technology that requires background visual effects to be added in post-production. This technology, referred to as The Volume by the cast and crew, is one of the most amazing innovations in filmmaking technology in recent years. But as the fourth episode of The Mandalorian documentary series revealed, it’s also something Star Wars creator George Lucas wanted to do himself nearly a decade ago. Read More »
If you ever needed proof that the ultra-rich play by a different set of rules, you need look no further than the story of Jeffrey Epstein. The billionaire spent years sexually abusing underage girls, and even after he was caught, he still managed to keep getting away with it. Lisa Bryant‘s emotionally draining docuseries Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich seeks to explain how this happened – how Epstein continued to thrive while rubbing elbows with the rich and powerful. But more important than that, it seeks to give voice to Epstein’s victims, and show them for the survivors they are.
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In an overstuffed TV landscape, Homecoming season 1 felt like something special. Not only was it engrossing, quickly hooking you with its mysteries, but it also stood out from the crowd thanks to its unique visual style – employing different aspect ratios to better illustrate time differences – and the way it employed music cues from films like All the President’s Men, Klute, Body Double, and many more. You could argue that it was all nothing more than a gimmick, but it worked exceedingly well.
Then there’s Homecoming season 2, which has itself a new director, a new lead, and, sadly, none of the spark and flair that made the first season so eye-catching. It’s a handsomely mounted season of TV, sure – but it’s lacking in distinction.
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There have been several different iterations of Looney Tunes (and by association Merrie Melodies) in recent years that have tried to update the classic cartoon characters with contemporary animation styles and modern day storylines. Unfortunately, the likes of The Looney Tunes Show, New Looney Tunes, and even Tiny Toon Adventures from the 1990s failed to really tap into what was special about the classic animated shorts starring Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Marvin the Martian, Road Runner, and more.
But when it comes to HBO Max’s new Looney Tunes Cartoons, the spirit and style of cartoon comedy from directors like Friz Freleng, Chuck Jones, Tex Avery and more is satisfyingly intact, albeit with a few changes that will take a little time to get used to. Read More »
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(Blumhouse Television and Hulu have partnered for a monthly horror anthology series titled Into The Dark, set to release a full holiday-themed feature every month. Horror anthology expert Matt Donato will be tackling the series one-by-one, stacking up the entries as they become streamable.)
As Into The Dark’s second season cycles through the calendar anew, it’s becoming apparent which months can withstand multiple cinematic iterations of the same holiday. December? Candy canes and Christmastime cadavers. October? Trick or treat terrorization. May? Chelsea Stardust already dared to question how far a matriarch’s devotion might reach in All That We Destroy, but there are plenty more maternal modifications that can reveal the horrors of motherhood. Emma Tammi’s Delivered, for example, takes a less-graphic frontierswoman’s swing at Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo Inside. More in-line with Tammi’s debut The Wind, which relies on atmosphere over action to sell the inherent fears of reproductive creation.
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I Know This Much is True has the bad luck of arriving at a time when the majority of potential viewers are extra stressed and extra depressed. Because of the situation we now find ourselves in, I Know This Much is True is going to seem like an uphill battle for many, simply because it’s so damn bleak. While the Wally Lamb adaptation doesn’t deal with a pandemic, it does focus on mental illness, sexual abuse, parental abuse, sudden infant death syndrome, suicide, and other harrowing subjects. It’s a parade of misery sprawled across six episodes. Despite its disadvantage, I Know This Much is True has plenty to celebrate – most notably star Mark Ruffalo, who does double duty playing a pair of identical twins.
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