Film & TV

When the Laughter Stopped: Remembering Television’s Halcyon Days

Mark Bizzell

Reality television shows such as SurvivorDancing with the Stars, and American Idol have been on top of the Nielsen TV ratings for more than a decade, a place where situation comedies used to sit.  While some comedy staples of the past few years, notably Modern Family and The Big Bang Theory, have stellar ratings and critical acclaim, they are not as groundbreaking as the comedies of the past.  Early 1970s sitcoms, like the highly rated All in the Family and Maude, dealt with social issues that networks now won’t touch in today’s hyper-partisan environment. 

“Immortals,” “Game of Thrones” Arrive on DVD, Blu-ray

Forrest Hartman

With “The Cell” and “The Fall,” Indian director Tarsem Singh made it clear that he values style above all, so it should come as no surprise that his take on Greek mythology -- "Immortals" -- is big, bold and visually impressive. Sadly, it is also dull.

Costumes, Crackpots and the Occult: The Best British TV Imports

Nancy D. Lackey Shaffer

It will be interesting to see what media analysts years from now make of television in the 2010s. The small screen has been so dominated by lush period pieces (The Tudors, The Borgias, Mad Men), procedurals driven by brilliant social misfits (House, Dexter, Bones), and supernatural dramas (The Vampire Diaries, The Walking Dead, True Blood), one wonders at the odd mix of nostalgia, monster mania and obsession with mad genius that lurks in Americans’ collective unconscious. For British programmers, these are very familiar waters, and US viewers are finding some UK offerings to be just their cup of tea.

Oscar-winning “Hugo," “Johnny English Reborn” Arrive on DVD, Blu-ray

Forrest Hartman

Director Martin Scorsese’s first stab at a family film couldn’t have gone better. “Hugo,” based on the 2007 picture book “The Invention of Hugo Cabret,” is a beautifully rendered work that’s appropriate for children, yet possesses more emotional and thematic depth than the majority of films for adults. In other words, “Hugo” may be marketed as a family drama, but it shouldn’t be pigeonholed.

Celebrating the Art of Animated Shorts at the Oscars

Elizabeth Pyjov

Animation offers viewers both the sensory effect of a film and the altered, stylized universe of a painting. There is something moving and poetic about animation that live-action is unable to access. Since 1931, the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences has awarded an Oscar for Best Animated Short Film. Here is a closer look at this year’s five animated short films.

Oscars Preview: Who Will Win (and Should Win) at the 2012 Academy Awards

Loren DiBlasi

Just when you thought you would never be able to forget the total train wreck that was James Franco and Anne Hathaway at last year’s Oscars ceremony, here we go again: The Academy Awards are this Sunday. So whose names will be called as winners of the coveted gold statuette? Do they really deserve to win-- and who might spoil it for them? Let’s break down the major categories and find out.

“J. Edgar,” “Tower Heist” Arrive on DVD, Blu-ray

Forrest Hartman

Much of director Clint Eastwood’s J. Edgar Hoover biopic is speculative and thus runs the risk of coming under attack from historical purists. But for those willing to view it for what it is – a movie – there is much to enjoy. Clearly, Eastwood has taken liberties in his storytelling, but that’s not a bad thing. In so doing, he has crafted a fascinating vision of a well-known personality. 

Foreign Films That Didn't Make the 2012 Oscars Cut

Peter Schurmann

This year's favorite for the Best Foreign Language Oscar depicts a couple battling an emotional separation and the theocracy that governs them. Set in Tehran, the film's warm reception in the United States says more about us -- and our unease with the wider world - than it does about Iran. Asghar Farhadi's “A Separation” vindicates our view of Iranians on some level, which is likely why it resonates with the Academy. But what about the films that don't? The past year saw a slew of movies that made waves with audiences in their home countries for reasons that have nothing to do with us.

“Take Shelter,” “The Rum Diary” Arrive on DVD, Blu-ray

Forrest Hartman

Although writer-director Jeff Nichols’ “Take Shelter” was shut out when Oscar nominations were announced, it received a fair amount of critical acclaim thanks to awards from the Cannes and Hollywood film festivals and a spot on the National Board of Review’s list of the top 10 independent films of 2011. Of course, none of those accolades matter unless the movie holds up under scrutiny. Fortunately, it does.

“The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn,” “Downton Abbey” Arrive on DVD, Blu-ray

Forrest Hartman

The massive popularity of Stephenie Meyers’ “Twilight” book series is difficult to explain, but there are harder tasks. Try, for instance, unearthing solid rationale for the success of the movie adaptations. The first “Twilight” film was bad, but it introduced enough interesting elements to inspire hope for the franchise’s future. Four movies in, that promise has faded into an increasingly inane love triangle.

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