Premieres April 14th. Somebody please name a feature film this year that’s expected to be a fraction as funny as the comedy series on HBO and Showtime.


Airs on HBO May 26. See full size after the cut.

(EW) Yes, that really is Michael Douglas and Matt Damon under the prosthetic makeup, wigs, and crystal-trimmed suits — all part of their costumes for Behind the Candelabra, the new Steven Soderbergh-directed HBO movie about the stranger-than-fiction romance between Liberace (Douglas) and his young lover, Scott Thorson (Damon) from 1978 to 1982. In this week’s issue, Damon and Douglas give a frank, funny interview about filming one of the weirdest, glitziest gay love stories ever put on film, one that required both actors to do things they’d never done before onscreen. Like, say, wearing a metallic thong — and nothing else. “Every Sunday night, this girl would come to my house and I would stand in my garage and I would hike my boxer briefs up into the crack of my a– and she would give me a spray tan,” explains Damon, who spends plenty of the movie in tiny swimsuits, and wasn’t too excited about his real-life wife seeing his bronzed backside. “We’ve been through three childbirths, we’ve been in the trenches, there are no secrets. But I really wish she didn’t see that. That’s too much.”

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Diane Ladd, Laura Dern

Diane Ladd, Laura Dern

Oh how I  love HBO for investing in and championing in such great parts for actresses.  Sooner or later, the economics of Hollywood inevitably devolves into work that indulges the pleasures of the target demo while leaving the rest of us who don’t fit into any marketing paradigm to fend for ourselves.  As prime time continues to consume its own babies with reality TV madness, to which there appears to be no end, and nightly crime dramas that have to really hit the bottom of the barrel to find “fresh” stories every week, HBO and now Netflix, with House of Cards, is where the action is.

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HBO’s Phil Spector premieres in two months. The film revolves around Spector’s sensational trial for the murder of actress Lana Clarkson, and will focus on the eccentric music mogul’s relationship with his defense attorney Linda Kenney Baden — played by Helen Mirren.

Teaser trailer after the cut.

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Watch two of the dumbest presenters and one of the smartest winners at the Globes after the cut.

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There is probably nothing more frustrating than seeing a voice and a talent like Lena Dunham’s — maybe the coolest thing to happen to storytelling in a long while — being relegated to stories about how these girls’ lives are shaped and defined by the men they pursue. So you might be thinking, first it’s the racism thing, now it’s the sexism thing — why can’t Lena Dunham just be Lena Dunham? Why does she have to be “the voice of a generation”? Can’t she just create good material and leave it at that? And the answer to that, of course, is yes, she can. Her writing is witty enough, and the characters are interesting enough to keep this thing going through a second season and beyond. And who isn’t willing to follow Dunham throughout her growth as an artist? Who’s not curious to see where she’s headed next?

I certainly am. But I don’t know how long I can keep looking forward to Girls if every episode is going to revolve around this guy, that guy, this guy, that guy. In fact, I already know the answer: not long.

Why? Because this is the same story we women have been handed for decades now, especially BY women storytellers. The notion that a man can save you, or that you are incomplete without a man in your life is really the same ol’ same ol’. There are so many interesting voices of women out there whose lives aren’t centered solely around men. Young women, old women — it’s important to note, and to be reminded, that women have worthy narratives beyond their need for and their ability to land a man. If you watched Girls, knowing nothing about the real world, you’d think the purpose of four years at an expensive college and moving to New York is to launch a voyage of discovery narrowly mapped out to seek only one treasure — to find a man at the end of the rainbow. And if you don’t have a man, if you’re properly loved, you’re not worthy.

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The handful of reviews for HBO’s Hemingway & Gellhorn (premiering tonight) are all over the map. The Wall Street Journal says it’s “rich and impressively ambitious.”

Nothing in this film speaks for its mastery more decisively than its depiction of that war. Given all the time and detail lavished on that depiction, it’s clear that the film’s creators—director Philip Kaufman (“The Right Stuff”) and writers Jerry Stahl and Barbara Turner—were betting on its power. A very good bet it was, too. Scene after wonderfully crowded scene evokes the color and tone of this bitterly ideological struggle, as do the militant songs—the choruses of “Viva La Quince Brigada” that come rumbling along, irresistible accompaniment to the battle scenes.

The Hollywood Reporter agrees, “the film looks rich and resplendent, perhaps at times even too spiffy and pristine. Geoffrey Kirkland’s production design and Ruth Myers’ costume design are nothing if not resourceful and evocative, with Rogier Stoffers’ cinematography enhancing all their color and atmospheric detail.”

Quite apart from its dramatic and visual qualities, the first thing to be noted about this kaleidoscopic biographical study is the way Kidman looks. The first image you see is of a strikingly beautiful older woman, 70ish, smoking and cementing viewer connection with her brilliant blue eyes as she scorns love and asserts her hunger for “what’s happening on the outside. Action!” She does resemble Kidman but looks too authentically old to actually be her. The question occurs: Did they get someone of the correct age — Julie Christie, Charlotte Rampling, Vanessa Redgrave — to play these interview scenes?

[If you want to see how Kidman looks octogenarianized in the opening shot, check her out.]

There are negative reviews too. Seek them out at Metacritic. Right now the thing itself is on the screen in the room with me, so I’m going to un-pause the DVR and find out for myself.

Snapped these shots of Julianne Moore and Ed Harris as Palin and McCain off the screen from an HBO preview tonight. Premieres in 2012. Two more after the cut.

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First look provided by Patrick Heidmann (who sourced it here). Moore plays Palin in the upcoming Game Change.

(Thanks Jon Pace for the insider tip) Coming in May from HBO, Too Big To Fail recounts the catastrophic fall of Lehman Brothers in 2008 and the global aftermath. An all-star cast including William Hurt, James Wood, Topher Grace, Cynthia Nixon, Tony Shalhoub, Billy Crudup, Ed Asner, Bill Pullman and Paul Giamatti re-enact the worst financial disaster of our lifetime (thus far, at least.) Directed by Curtis Hansen (LA Confidential) the film is based on NY Times reporter Andrew Ross Sorkin’s book of the same name.

Having the tome adapted for the premium cable network is an important part of educating the public, says Sorkin… Like the book on which it is based, the film will attempt to take viewers inside the room to see the choices that needed to be made as the economy went into a tailspin fueled by toxic mortgages two-plus years ago. ‚ÄúPeople don‚Äôt really appreciate how close to the edge we really were,‚Äù he says. ‚ÄúI think that this project puts that into perspective.‚Äù

It will also show the complexities of many of the period’s leading men. As Sorkin sees it, none of the crisis’ characters are quite as black and white as they’re often portrayed in the media. “There are moments where you want to take them up by the collar and say, ‘What the heck are you doing? You’re really screwing this up,’” he says. “And there are moments where you actually want to give them a pat on the back in a way probably that you wouldn’t have ever expected.” It is these kind of surprises that Sorkin believes make the 2008 period, as well as his work depicting it, so fascinating.

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Growing up, there was only one Lizzie Borden — Bewitched star Elizabeth Montgomery who showed she could be troubling and crazy in addition to perky and full of mischief. But Sevigny is the perfect person to play the character — although I wonder what version of Lizzie we’re going to see. The real Lizzie was a puzzle. She held all of her emotions in. No one really knew for sure if she did it or not. No one could imagine she could be capable of wielding that ax in that manner — with extreme force. Yet there was no way anyone else could get in there to do the crime. It is a great mystery. So I’m hoping they will treat it as such and not just film it assuming Borden was guilty. No one ever proved it and she was never charged with the crime.

Meanwhie, Sevigny has really done exceptional work on Big Love, which ends this coming Sunday. Last week’s episode had Nicky going as dark as she’s ever gone before having a psychological break as she realizes what she has done, and what she has become. This story was originally reported on Deadline. TV Line offered up a video of Sevigny talking about the project.

Brilliant Todd Haynes – can’t wait for this.

Strong reveiws for tonight’s HBO premiere of Cormac McCarthy’s Sunset Limited starring Tommy Lee Jones and Samuel L. Jackson, and directed by Tommy Lee himself.

Subject matter doesn’t get more profound than life and death, but, thanks to McCarthy’s writing and the two veteran actors, we’re completely drawn into the discussion, so much so that we’re taken by surprise as McCarthy careful injects another possible interpretation of the play’s set-up.

Both performances are terrific… Jones looks and acts appropriately tired. It would be easy to give in to the temptation to make White simply bitter and empty, but by keeping the character human, Jones makes his despair even more profound… Jackson may have the slightly more difficult job in that he has to avoid self-righteousness playing the “good guy,” but he more than meets that challenge. His is that TV rarity, a tour de force performance, rippling with energy, nuance, humor and passion. (San Francisco Chronicle)

Watching TCM’s tribute to 1939 today and noticing Thomas Mitchell played a key supporting role in every single movie that year. Struck by the fact that — as formidable as they are — both Tommy Lee Jones and Samuel L. Jackson shine brightest when they energize supporting characters. Check out the 2 polls after the cut to choose your favorites.

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With Double Indemnity and The Postman Always Rings Twice, James M. Cain wrote two classic hard-boiled novels that Hollywood turned into two of the best films noir ever made. After Paramount and MGM snatched up the rights to those two, it left Warners scrambling for whatever Cain adaptation they could lay they hands on. Turning to another Cain bestseller, they might have been told: But there’s no crime story, there’s no murder in Mildred Pierce. To which screenwriters Ranald MacDougall, Catherine Turney and William Faulkner (!) might have replied: Don’t worry. We’ll fix that.

While the film added a tidy flashback structure, murder and mystery, the screen version of Mildred Pierce lost the background setting, social conscience and scathing cultural implications. The Great Depression and prohibition are gone from the film, and the movie had to sanitize the substantial sexuality of the novel. Todd Haynes 5-hour miniseries goes back to the source and restores all that juice. The novel was scandalous at the time of its publication, but as a psychological snapshot of the culture’s stickier moral questions of the early 20th century, it has much more in common Theodore Dreiser’s An American Tragedy than with anything written by Hammett or Chandler.

The most important difference you’ll find is between the two interpretations of Mildred’s ungrateful daughter Veda. The movie turned Veda into a finishing school femme fatale debutante. In the book she’s a Bad Seed to the core. As bad as they come. Lolita with fangs and claws. All this is meant to reassure the doubters who wonder what’s the point of remaking a classic. This isn’t a remake of the Joan Crawford movie, because the 1946 noir is nowhere near as psychosexually intense as the HBO film will be. To call it a twisted slant on Electra complex is not far off, and a handy way to hint at how much the original story resembles Greek Tragedy.


PUBLIC SPEAKING, directed by Scorsese and produced by Graydon Carter, about legendary New York writer Fran Lebowitz will preeem on Monday.

Directed in the style of Scorsese’s early documentaries “Italian American” and “American Boy,” PUBLIC SPEAKING showcases Lebowitz’s worldview and experiences. Spotlighting her trademark humor, the film weaves together extemporaneous monologues with archival footage.

Scorsese is one of those who can easily transition in and out of filmmaking, teaching film and making non-fiction films quite well. Is there anything he can’t do? Set your DVRs. If I had my way, Shutter Island would also be heavy in this year’s Oscar race.

Fabulous, elaborate, epic. The background music, a variation on Atonement’s opening sequence theme, is an excellent choice, nice fit.

Original 1945 trailer for Joan Crawford’s Mildred Pierce after the cut. (thanks Amanda)

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baordwalk empire 2

Get some Directv packages to get all the channels you want.

jennybee finds these swell hoofers and hoods engaging in enticing vices on HBO’s flapper-era series Boardwalk Empire, premiering Sept 19. See this spiffy pair bigger along with another one after the cut.

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