Neither a chain of spice stores nor a Food Network program, The Seasoning House is a bleak-as-nuclear-winter thriller set during the Balkan conflict of the 1990s. A deaf girl named Angel (Brit teen Rosie Day) is taken from her home by soldiers who shoot her mother dead.
Paul Schrader’s The Canyons opens and closes with a montage of abandoned movie theaters. For this film in particular, that choice strikes one as symbolic in several ways: not only as a comment on the state of the industry, but on the state of The Canyons itself. You’re unlikely to find many 2013 films this empty.
What's a director of classic musicals doing in science fiction? Making Saturn 3, one of the worst of the genre Hollywood made in the immediate post-Star Wars / Alien era. Stanley Donen (Singin' in the Rain) takes to it about as well as you'd expect; he's in over his head.
Military marksman Col. Jim McQuade (Gregory Hines, Running Scared) is called into top-secret duty to neutralize a surveillance robot gone haywire in San Francisco. It won't be easy, because for one thing, the android is undetectable from a human. For another, it has a built-in nuclear bomb that will detonate upon imminent threat.
I plead guilty: My friends and I have goofed around with a camcorder before and made stupid movies, but we were smart enough to know that no one outside ourselves would think they were funny. If only the makers of Caesar and Otto's Deadly Xmas realized the same.
I’m guessing not many saw 2010’s Tiny Furniture,
an imperfect but smart and charming comedy that burst Lena Dunham, its
star/writer/director, onto the indie-feature scene. On its strength and
reception, Dunham scored a series deal at HBO with none other than Judd
Apatow (Bridesmaids) producing.
The result, Girls, debuts at 9:30 p.m. Sunday on HBO. It may deal with the lives of four unmarried, 20-something women in New York City, but this is no Sex and the City, and thank the stars above for that. One of its characters, the shy virgin played by Zosia Mamet (daughter of David, and a recurring player on Mad Men), references that once-zeitgeist hit of female wish-fulfillment fantasy with a fawning voice and goo-goo eyes, but the knock at it is unmistakable, and appreciated.
Dunham, writing wise beyond her years and directing just fine, is front and center as Hannah, who, in the pilot, learns her parents (including Bosom Buddies’ Peter Scolari as her noncombative dad) are cutting the cord of financial support. She’s hopeful her publishing internship will turn into a “real” job, but it doesn’t, and her love life fares no more success. Oh, she’s getting laid on a constant basis — it’s just with the most repulsive, uncaring beast a single gal should never get near.
From the first three half-hour episodes I previewed, it’s clear that the politically incorrect comedy already stands on firm footing, confident in its resolute archness. Example: Episode two, titled “Vagina Panic,” finds a plot in throwing a quasi-party for an abortion to be had by Jessa (Tiny Furniture vet Jemima Kirke, the show’s weakest link), so indeed, Girls isn’t for everyone. A skewed sense of humor is a must.
Dunham is in danger of having the entire show stole from under her by Hannah’s bitchy roommate, Marnie (Allison Williams, daughter of NBC News anchor Brian Williams), but hey, isn’t that just like real life? Here’s hoping the remainder of its freshman season are as diabolically winning. —Rod Lott