Sunday, November 28, 2010

Weekend TV: Human Target 2.2

I've made the comparison between HUMAN TARGET and the CW's NIKITA before, and it's no surprise that there may be similar storylines in each, but this is a little ridiculous. Our hero (Chance, in this case), who previously was a professional assassin, assigns himself to protect the wife of one of his victims. The new boss seems to be working out pretty well, but the interaction with the young thief is a little awkward.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Weekend TV: Terriers 1.9

While Hank is laid up, Britt decides to take a case on his own. Meanwhile, Maggie finds out something about Jason and Hank has to decide whether or not to tell Gretchen.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Human Target Interviews

In advance of tonight's Season 2, Episode 2, has posted interviews with cast regular Chi McBride and newcomer Indira Varma. This series is called "A Few Minutes With..." and that's really all it is, but there are some interesting points, including Chi's vehemence against a certain baseball team.

Chi McBride

Indira Varma

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Lincoln Lawyer Trailer

The trailer for the film adaptation of Michael Connelly's THE LINCOLN LAWYER is embedded below. Watch it if you dare. I, for one, am glad I read the book as the entire movie seems to play out in the trailer. This can be death to crime fiction in any form, as the surprises are the cherry on top of the sundae, the extra bit that makes the rest even better. The same thing happened the other day when I saw the trailer for FASTER with Dwayne Johnson. For this revenge picture, he shoots 5 guys in the trailer, so, I figure I've seen the whole thing.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Weekend TV: Life 1.4

Crews and Reese investigate a murder in the hills, and the only witness appears to be a homeless man that lives nearby. William Sanderson, who plays the homeless man, is one of our overlooked character actors and gives another fine performance here. He's mostly known for TV (Larry in "Newhart", Farnum in "Deadwood", Sheriff Dearborne in "True Blood") but he's also had some memorable roles in films like BLADE RUNNER, FLETCH, THE ROCKETEER, THE CLIENT, LAST MAN STANDING and GODS AND GENERALS. Not much noir character development from Crews this week, but he does put together some major clues near the end of the episode. Enjoy!

Weekend TV: Human Target 2.1

I'm cautiously optimistic about the second season. I can deal with a few changes, as long as some things stay. Like the choreography and the stunts. Like Guerrero's dark side. Like Chance's journey of redemption. The new direction is not yet clear, but this episode portends well. Chance is hunted down and found by a billionairess widow who needs protection, which has Chance and his team globe-trotting from Nepal to San Francisco to Switzerland.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Weekend TV: Terriers 1.8

This show is so good. You should be watching. There are five episodes currently on, so you can catch up before the season finale. In this episode, the past comes alive as Britt's former B&E partner sets him up to steal drugs from a jail, which prompts Hank to turn to his former police partner to get him out of Mexico, and puts Katie and her former one-night-stand in danger.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Human Target Returns!

In advance of the 2nd-season premiere of HUMAN TARGET tonight (8pm, FOX), has posted an interesting interview with star Mark Valley and new addition Indira Varma. I have to admit some trepidation hearing there is a new show-runner and a new direction, having really appreciated the first season in a throwback kind of way, but the stunts have always been great, which you know is important to me if you were here yesterday, and I have grown to like the characters. So, I may not be expecting the kind of quality you are getting on TERRIERS (are you watching yet?), but I do expect to get a good time for an hour a week, geeking out on my 80s youth.

Find the article here.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

How Digital Hollywood Killed the Movie Stunt

Just quickly, a great article at Salon by Matt Zoller Seitz about the dearth of practical effects in modern films, and the stunts that went with them. Solid analysis with a good amount of historical context concerning one of my biggest pet peeves. Couple this with a new biography by director Hal Needham coming out in February, and I'm a happy man.

The article here.

Pre-order STUNTMAN! by Hal Needham here.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Weekend TV: Life 1.3

In this episode, Crews and Reese investigate a crash/car-jacking and a husband with amnesia. (Interesting how both episodes this weekend deal with amnesiacs.) But the sub-text pertaining to Crews' noir status is contained in these two scenes:

First, Crews faces the lead detective that sent him to jail

Crews's statement that he didn't appreciate his life suggests a need for the dark side, that without the contrast, there is no way to value what you have, and indicates that the dark side is now a permanent part of who he is.

The next two scenes tie together

The chase shows that, even though Crews has been re-instated as a cop, it's still his con instincts that take over when his life is on the line. The second scene shows his willingness to try to change, to find redemption on level ground, as well as the pressure that he and his partner are under due to the settlement.

Here's the full episode:

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Weekend TV: Terriers 1.7

Hank and Britt come across a young man that reminds him of his sister at that age, but who doesn't remember a thing about who he is. Meanwhile, Steph ventures out of the house, now that her meds seem to be taking hold. And Britt can't figure out why Katie is so distant...

Friday, November 12, 2010

Donal Logue Interviews

Although tells us we're only in the middle of the first season of TERRIERS, for those watching live, the season ends in a couple weeks. It sounds like it's on the bubble for a second season, and those of us that appreciate it, we don't want another OVER THERE situation. So, in an effort to entice as many people to watch it as possible, there is a push to promote it throughout the land, including a tour with stars Donal Logue and Michael-Raymond James, as well as interviews with Logue on (here) and at the podcast The Nerdist. So, please, take a look and a listen, allow the awesomeness of the show wash over you, and please, if you're the slightest bit interested, take a look over the next couple weeks, and let FX know that you appreciate the work they put into quality programming.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

NoirCon PostMortem

I'll have a lengthier post to come about my NoirCon experiences, but I wanted to make sure to post this quote from Don Siegel: Director I happened to have with me on the weekend. I think it speaks to many of the issues that were brought up, including the "noir brain," the explosion of noir after WWII, noir/evil and reality, as well as the book's author, Stuart Kaminsky. This quote comes from actor Neville Brand, possibly best known as Al Capone on the first TV version of The Untouchables, who worked with Siegel on RIOT IN CELL BLOCK 11. He also happened to be, at the time of publishing (1974), the fourth most-decorated soldier in US history.

"Don is like Peckinpah. They both dig violence and are two of the least violent guys I've ever met. It takes that kind of guy to understand violence. The violent guy doesn't understand. A man who has killer instinct in him, who has killed a lot of people - I killed a lot of people in the war - doesn't understand. I've worked all my life to channel the violence in me, to keep me out of the penitentiaries, for God's sake. They pinned medals on me for it during the war and since then I've had to channel it. Acting is the perfect channel for me..."

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Weekend TV: Life 1.2

Crews and Reese have come to an understanding. They don't exactly like each other, but they respect each other. Reese decides she's not a rat, despite her Lieutenant telling her that the force is not the safest place for Crews. They are called to a crime scene where a bride was killed on her wedding night.

Crews doesn't act out like he did in the pilot episode, but he does demonstrate how prison has changed him when he looks into a suspect's eyes and determines that he is innocent. After all, he tells the LT, "I've been around a lot of guys who've killed their wives." It is this type of human observation that Crews has honed in prison, needing to read people and pre-judge them before interacting with them. And it is this skill that makes him a better detective, although it doesn't help him obey orders any better.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Weekend TV: Terriers 1.6

Britt and Hank attend Hank's ex-wife's engagement party, which gets Hank thinking about the past and Britt about the future. Meanwhile, they're hired to track down a ring that belongs to a dying woman, and Katie goes drinking with her veterinary class.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Noir Series, Part 4

The last two weeks of the series feature a rarely-seen classic and a returning favorite. On February 17, we will screen the first pairing of Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas in I WALK ALONE. Running rum in the 20s, Lancaster is caught but doesn't talk. On the outside, Douglas goes straight and opens a successful nightclub with the bootlegging profits. When he gets out of prison, Lancaster wants his share of the profits and Douglas's girl (Lizabeth Scott).

The last noir film of the series is the classic heist film THE ASPHALT JUNGLE, screening on February 27. Being a bit of a heist aficionado himself, and in the midst of writing a caper novel, noir author Charles Benoit returns after a successful 2010 event to answer more questions about how film noir has influenced his writing and how his new book YOU has been recieved.

I am looking forward to another successful series and expect to see all of you there!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Noir Series, Part 3

The 2011 "Essential Film Noir" series continues on February 3 with a unique double feature. Both films feature the same star and same director, and were released in the same year, in addition to both being noir. The star was James Mason, the director Max Ophuls, the year 1949 and the films CAUGHT and THE RECKLESS MOMENT. In CAUGHT Barbara Bel Geddes is a woman trapped in a loveless marriage that she runs out on. In THE RECKLESS MOMENT, Joan Bennett is another mother who would do anything for her daughter, including hide a dead body. Neither of these films are on DVD, so make sure to take advantage of this opportunity to see them on the big screen.

On February 10 I will have the honor of welcoming noir author Megan Abbott to the Dryden Theatre stage. Her novels THE SONG IS YOU, DIE A LITTLE, QUEENPIN and BURY ME DEEP have won just about every major mystery award and have been optioned by Hollywood. Megan will be with me to talk about her writing and about the 1946 film Gilda starring Rita Hayworth. In between, she'll be signing copies of her books.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Noir Series, Part 2

On January 2o, 2o11 the "Essential Film Noir" series will feature the 1946 Joan Crawford MILDRED PIERCE a full two months before the new HBO version featuring Kate Winslet airs. The story of a mother who would do anything for her daughter is accompanied by a talk with film noir scholar and Turner Classic Movies employee Shannon Clute, who has a book coming out in 2011 with co-author Richard Edwards. The two have filled the web airwaves with darkness from their podcasts "Out of the Past: Investigating Film Noir" and "Behind the Black Mask: Mystery Writers Revealed." Shannon will talk about the influence of literature on noir, and the influence of noir on literature.

January 27 will feature the Ronald Colman film A DOUBLE LIFE. Colman won the Oscar for this 1947 portrayal of an actor who loses himself too deeply in a murderous part.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Noir Series, Part 1

It's almost time once again for the annual "Essential Film Noir" film series to start at the Dryden Theatre in Rochester, NY. Once again, we will take 8 consecutive Thursdays in January and February to watch some of the best classic films noir on the big screen, and I am very proud to announce some extra-special guests that will be joining us this year to talk about the films and their influence.

We start off the 2011 series on January 6 with THE MALTESE FALCON. You may not think there's anything else to say about the San Francisco-based P.I. film, but I'll be talking with author Sean Chercover, Shamus-winning author of the P.I. Ray Dudgeon series, and a former private investigator himself. If anyone has something new to reveal about the film, it will be Sean. In between, he'll be signing copies of his Ray Dudgeon books. Visit Sean's website at

On January 13, we'll have a double feature of Don Siegel-directed noirs, starting with THE LINEUP and finishing with THE BIG STEAL. THE LINEUP is based on the police procedural series of the same name. Eli Wallach, in only his second big-screen role is the noir focus of this film, as a psychotic thug hired to retrieve some smuggled drugs. Robert Mitchum returns to noir in THE BIG STEAL as a man on the run from the US Army, either absconding with or tracking down stolen funds. Watch the trailers here: