Bustle TV Coverage: 7/13/14 to 7/20/14

This week on Bustle, I: 

...got "What's Up" by 4 Non Blondes stuck in my own head while looking into Make or Break Linda Perry's biggest hits.
http://bsl.io/1tG0jS3

...found out all the crazy stories you've heard about rumspringa are true.
http://bsl.io/UdQ32W

...looked back at the cheesy Lifetime movie that brought LeAnn Rimes and Eddie Cibrian together
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...and discovered that the music behind 'Married" is by Ratatat and Broken Bells.
http://bsl.io/1mPOOBZ

Image: Prashant Gupta/FX

DVD Review: 'Under the Skin'


...We follow Laura as she drives around the streets of Glasgow in a van, luring and seducing men into her orbit, often to their detriment. For these scenes, Glazer uses a series of non-actors in largely improvised environments; the van is outfitted with up to 10 hidden-camera setups.

The result of these conditions—regular people having unscripted conversations in a natural setting without cameras reminding them they’re being filmed—should be naturalistic. However, they don’t entirely feel this way. While these scenes do feel authentic, Glazer heightens the action beyond the typical found-footage-style documentary. His images are more beautiful than something you’d expect from dashboard cameras. He also sets the scenes to a discordantly beautiful score by Mica Levi. You can feel the disconnect between Laura and the rest of humanity; everything feels distant and unsettled.

This is largely to the credit of Johansson. She’s capable of telegraphing both seduction and isolation simultaneously. She connects with the men she meets on the street, but you can tell that there’s an emotional disconnect. While there is dialogue throughout the film, Johansson is essentially giving a silent performance. The words that pass between her and the men are of no consequence to the arc of the film; they’re just to get the men in the van. The emotional core of the story—which comes more and more into focus as the film progresses—is almost entirely advanced through Johansson’s face...

Click through to read the full review at PopMatters.

Bustle TV Coverage: 6/29/14 to 7/12/14

This week on Bustle, I:

...explained how Welcome to Sweden is basically a lower-key Parks & Recreation
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...but lamented how little Amy Poehler will be on it
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...speculated that Olaf will not be appearing on Once Upon a Time
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...reminded the world of Rising Star host Josh Groban's greatest accomplishment, his "I'm your Bieber now" tweet
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...noticed what a difference a year or two has made in the life of Extant's Halle Berry
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...and reminded everyone how holidays are always better if you add Muppets
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Image: Getty



The Daily Traveler: Amazing Outdoor Film Screenings

A Hot Tub Cinema? Our Favorite Outdoor Movie Venues

Who needs a drive-in? No cars are required to enjoy these outdoor movie screenings—and, chances are, the view will be as good as the film. Enjoy a sunset screening all summer long in an historic Italian piazza, on the rooftop of a cinema in Athens, in a cemetery in Los Angeles, and yes, in a hot tub.

Bologna, Italy

When the weather warms, Cineteca di Bologna turns the city’s Piazza Maggiore into one of the most historic outdoor movie venues, with Renaissance architecture surrounding the plaza on all sides and the dome of the Sanctuary of Santa Maria della Vita rising behind the screen. Cineteca di Bologna holds 51 screenings under the stars throughout the summer, with eight nights dedicated to the “Il Cinema Ritrovato” (Cinema Rediscovered) series of classic movies. It also claims that the Piazza Maggiore's screen is one of the largest in Europe.

Coming Attractions: Jules and Jim, The Spirit of '45, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

Click through to see the full slideshow at The Condé Nast Traveler.

Photo: Lorenzo Burlando






Bustle TV Coverage

So, I picked up a freelance gig covering TV for Bustle! My first week, I... 

...geeked out about how much I loved the flawed women of Tom Perrotta
Meet Tom Perrotta's Leading Ladies

...took any excuse I could to post the "Donna Martin graduates!" video from Beverly Hills, 90210
Tag Team, Back Again

...watched a ton of YouTube videos starring my favorite So You Think You Can Dance contestant, tWitch
Catch Up with the Best 'SYTYCD' Contestant Ever

...got super-jealous of Moran Atias' Instagram account
She's Your Next Girl Crush

...and tried to figure out what the heck CeeLo's reality show is about
CeeLo Green's Reality Show Isn't Very Real

DVD Review: Winter's Tale

The love story should be the heart of Winter’s Tale, but the movie is frequently caught up in the more supernatural elements of the story, and everything is consumed in its spiritual mumbo-jumbo. For example, at least two different characters are pressed into service to explain that Lake’s horse is “actually a dog”—specifically Athansor, the “Dog of the East”—that just sometimes takes the form of a horse. This information never comes to bear in the rest of the entire movie, as Athansor never appears as a dog; it’s just magical nonsense.

It’s not just background nonsense, either; the movie goes out of its way to play up its spiritual angle. Light and its mystical properties, for example, is a major theme of the movie. Instead of just being a recurring visual motif, though, Goldsman makes sure the light is always front-and-center. This results in something onscreen twinkling right before an awe-inspiring event happens. It’s a constant primer that the audience doesn’t actually need.

The magical elements of the story come at the expense of developing real characters. By the time a second set of major characters is introduced in the 2014 timeline, Winter’s Tale doesn’t have enough time left to get invested in them as people. Instead, they become just another set of mystical objects in Lake’s quest for miracles.

Click through to read the full review at PopMatters



DVD Review: Jack Ryan Shadow Recruit


...All of this happens in what is basically the prologue to the actual events of the film, which show how the squeaky-clean Ryan, following his injury, is recruited into the CIA, first as a data analyst at a financial firm in New York City, and then as an agent on his first field assignment to avert an act of financial terrorism in Russia. As Ryan progresses up the ranks of the CIA, though, the story doesn’t get any more nuanced. Ryan is always the most observant, most competent, most morally upstanding guy in the room. The Americans are the good guys; the Russians are the villains. It is, like its airport-novel origins, pretty boilerplate.

For something so formulaic, though, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is at least well done. Director Kenneth Branagh borrows from the best of recent thrillers. He throws in a Bourne-style fight scene here, a Mission:Impossible break-in-and-heist-sequence there, and some Zero Dark Thirty-like data analysis, along with a dash of his own classic, theatrical flourishes. (Branagh takes on the role of Russian baddie Viktor Cherevin, a cold-blooded killer who still makes time to talk about the novels of Mikhail Lermontov.)

With each of these sequences, Branagh changes his filmmaking style to match. The Bourne-like fistfight also borrows its director’s affinity for the shaky, handheld camera aesthetic. The longer heist scene has more fluid camera movements and quick cuts to ratchet up the tension. Throughout, Branagh makes everything sparkle: fluorescent lights of a city, reflections on smooth surfaces of modern architecture, blinking lights of a computer message. The elements of the story may be familiar, but everything looks shiny and new.

Click through to read the full review at PopMatters.

TV Review: Halt and Catch Fire


With the relationships among MacMillan, Clark, and Howe in the foreground, Halt and Catch Fire makes impressive use of its time period without treating it as an elbow-to-the-ribs joke. Sure, there’s the obligatory Return of the Jedi reference, but there are no Rubik’s cubes, day-glo colors, “Billie Jean,” or any of the other hackneyed ‘80s touchstones. Instead, 1983 appears here to be a transitional year that separates the ‘70s from the ‘80s, pivoting to the age of the personal computer, and the details designating this moment are specific rather than generic.

Click through to read the full review on PopMatters.

DVD Review: Lizzie Borden Took an Axe

Taken all together, Lizzie Borden Took an Axe is unsatisfying on every level. It doesn’t dig deep enough to make Borden a deliciously evil villain that still inspires some loyalty, like Hannibal Lecter or Joe Carroll. The procedural elements detailing the trial amount to dueling monologues from the prosecution and defense, making them more dry than dramatic. (And shallow, too: You see the hoards of press and gawkers at the trial, but their impact is never explored.) It doesn’t shed any new light on the century-old case. And the camp doesn’t go over-the-top enough to fulfill any kind of cheesy midnight-movie craving.

Click through to read the full review at PopMatters.