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Entries from Cinecultist tagged with 'HBO'

Paul Giamatti Promotes the Post Office

Post Office website
Now this is an advertising tie-in campaign Cinecultist's grandmother could get behind. We can just picture the boardroom meeting..."That John Adams was a great role model. You know why? Because he used STAMPS and sent LETTERS through the MAIL when founding our nation. It's hot stuff. And you know what's even better? Movie star Paul Giamatti will be portraying him on HBO.* They can show anything on cable! It'll make stamps sexy again!"

*Actually, CC is really looking forward to this seven part mini-series starting on Mar. 16. The previews we've seen so far look really good. We just didn't expect to see an ad for it when trying to figure out how late the post office was open tonight.

New Television Programming, Hallelujiah!

Cinecultist with an empty DVR and only reruns on primetime is a sad Cinecultist. On Sunday we even found ourselves back at the Union Square Virgin Megastore this afternoon trolling the $10 sale bins, after already dropping quite a tidy sum there just before the holidays. Fortunately, there was a little new programming on the boob tube that night to distract—the season premieres of The Wire on HBO and a series preview of Cashmere Mafia on ABC. It was a mixed bag, but it at least it was something. Damn you media conglomerates, sit down and hammer out a deal with the writers union already!

thewireep38_01.jpgThe good news first: we think we could fall for The Wire. Despite the fact that the critical consensus for a while now has been that this show is one of the best on television (some even say, best show ever) Cinecultist never got hooked on this Baltimore cops/drug dealers/politicians/media show. Fortunately HBO offered a series recap program before the new episode, so that whet our whistle and filled in a few character arcs. All of the talking heads on the special, from the series regulars to critics, are over the moon for writer/producer David Simon's creation. With that much love showered on this program, and the "Dickensian" adjective batted around, CC will record it for the season. Though the zillions of characters and at times confusing, jargon heavy dialog in the first episode was daunting.

The bad news: Cashmere Mafia, Cinecultist knows our Sex and the City and you madam, are no Sex and the City. Sure, the program has four beautiful, high powered women stalking around Manhattan, tapping away on BlackBerries and plotting affairs, but the dialog and plot is so wooden its laughable. Also, the director has taken a page from Aaron Sorkin and has the cast practically sprinting around the sets. It's off putting. Not to mention that in the face of The Wire's social agenda, a show this fluffy and done badly no less, seems insulting. CC doesn't mind fluffy, in fact we like it, if its done with original characters and just a few witty lines. During the commercial break as we washed the dishes, Cinecultist felt compelled to coin a new (nonsensical) phrase to describe this show: kstupid. So insipid and annoying, that it's beyond stupid into kstupid. Avoid at all cost is our advice, even if you have a soft spot for Lucy Liu and the concept of an Asian romantic lead on TV .

Frankly, it wasn't an encouraging evening for Cinecultist's TV loving heart. Here's hoping one of three things happens—the strike ends soon, Jon Stewart can return funny without his writers tonight or that new Gabriel Byrne series In Treatment which starts in a few weeks is worth regularly watching. Cancel that, Cinecultist is an optimist, let's hope all three things happen.

Mixed Feelings: Sex & The City Goes To Hollywood

"After much foreplay, the feature version of the long-running HBO series is gearing for a fall start, with New Line near a deal to finance and distribute," according to Variety today.

Frankly, Cinecultist is a little "meh" about it. We own most of the series on DVD, got HBO when we moved to New York in order to watch it, and even paid good money to go on the SATC tour while in graduate school. (CC wrote a cultural studies paper about the show and its branding of the New York City experience, so shut up about it.) In other words, we should be able to muster more excitement about the news.

Maybe it's because we can't imagine any sort of interesting plot line for the "girls" to explore. The series finale really wrapped it up pretty tidily. Besides, as everyone keeps pointing out with a tinge of evil gloat, the actresses are all getting up there in years. SATC was a product of its moment—financially solvent, sexually expressive 30-somethings living in New York during the booming '90s. But now those chicks have moved on, bought the co-op in Park Slope and retired the Blahniks. What's interesting or sexy about that? Frankly, the whole retread, been-there-seen-it-done-it-bought-the-tshirt aspect is depressing.

Nothing Perks Up CC Like a Samantha Morton Movie

samanthamortonlongford.jpg

Being busy is good for the pocketbook and the emotional well-being but not for the blogging. Cinecultist has been freelancing up a storm and hardly finding time to see movies, let alone blog about them. However little works to revitalize our blogging instinct than a good movie starring Samantha Morton. Her work is like poetry. She emotes like nobody's business. Basically, we totally heart her which is why we'd taped via our DVR her new film on HBO Longford a while ago and finally found a spare moment over the weekend to watch it. Please try to make a point of seeing this movie, it has so many elements that make it really compelling programming.

The script was written by Peter Morgan, our current film writing hero and the pen behind two of the strongest films from last year's The Last King of Scotland and The Queen. This is another historical biopic, Morgan's genre of choice lately, about a controversial English friendship between Lord Frank Pakenham, the 7th Earl of Longford and condemned murderer Myra Hindley. Hindley was convicted of murdering a number of children and then burying their bodies on the Moors with her boyfriend Ian Brady during the '60s. Longford was a renowned advocate of prisoner's rights, he began visiting Hindley and crusading on her behalf for parole. However, the revelation of Hindley's intrinsic involvement in the brutal murders years after her incarceration led to Longford's public ruin.

In addition to Morton's great performance as Hindley, Jim Broadbent is also top notch as the title character. With those naive, idealistic, wide eyes behind the gold rimmed glasses and that liver-spotted bald head, he's utterly compelling. It's not often in movies that you see spirituality and faith depicted as noble causes but Longford's unshaken belief in the power of God's love to redeem even the most hardened criminal is incredibly moving.

Other notable cast members include Andy Serkis (Peter Jackson's Gollum in the Lord of the Rings movies) as an intensely creepy Ian Brady, and two favorites from the recently completed series Rome, Lindsay Duncan (Servilia) plays Longford's fellow activist wife, Elizabeth and Lee Boardman (Atia's Jewish servant Timon) has a brief role as a talk show host.

P.S. Morgan's next project is an adaptation of the best-selling historical fiction book about the Henry VIII era, The Other Boleyn Girl starring Scarlett Johansson, Natalie Portman and Eric Bana, as the womanizing monarch. CC, for one, can hardly wait.

Alexandra Pelosi Asks The Important Questions

"Do you think the holy spirit is here in this Burger King parking lot?" So says the disembodied voice of documentarian Alexandra Pelosi to some of the Cruisers for Christ, a Christian car club, during her new film, Friends of God now airing on HBO.