X-Men: Days of Future Past Trailer #2

Okay. This one is much better.

Here’s the new Days of Future Past Trailer…

I quite literally can’t wait for this. I’ve hyped this up in my mind to the point where it could never live up to my expectations.

Still don’t know how I feel about Nimrod’s look. I love the classic Sentinels look. These kind of look like that robot from Thor.

I’m loving the fact that this will merge the X-men movies to the X-men: First Class cast in the most perfect way with the best story from the comic books. This is how you reboot a franchise people; Have the older actors go back in time. (J.J. Abrams agrees with me)

My Bold Prediction: This is going to be good. This is going to be so fucking good.

– Mel

Five Favorite Foreign Filmmakers from 5 Regions (Part Six: The Rest of the World)

After compiling my five-part foreign filmmaker series there were about a handful of great artists that were left off the list. So this is in effect part six of that five-part series. We had: Asia, Europe, The UK, Canada, Latin America and now…

The Rest of The World

There were three Australians, one Russian and one African director that absolutely had to be added to my favorites. I’m almost certain my picks from these regions will surprise you. And the 5, 4, 3, 2 & 1 film I chose from each director are some of the best and most entertaining movies of the series.

(Full disclosure: It was dumb of me to start this series before compiling the whole damn thing. I won’t make that mistake again)

To the list…

First up… from Australia… the great…

Peter Weir (Australia)

Peter Weir

The first director on this Rest of The World list is one of my favorite directors from the 80’s, he directed the films, Witness and Dead Poets Society; two of my favorites of all-time. I can’t even begin to count how many times I’ve seen Witness. Or how often I quote it. I still quote it constantly. (“Stop the boy from ringing that bell. Stop him now. Get outta here now.”) And Dead Poets is one of those inspirational films that I like to drag out when I’m searching for inspiration.

From a time when Robin Williams was my favorite actor and Mel Gibson was still sane, Peter Weir is a director’s director who paints with powerful emotion & great performances, breathtaking visuals & real stories.

Here are five perfect films from a director who was the vanguard of the Australian New Wave; Peter Weir:

The Year of Living Dangerously (1982)

The year of living dangerously

Witness (1985)

witness

Dead Poets Society (1989)

Dead Poets Society

The Truman Show (1998)

The Truman Show

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003)

Master and Commander

Peter Weir was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Direction on each of these films except for The Year of Living Dangerously. In 1985 He won the DGA award for Witness but hasn’t yet won an Oscar. This is a travesty, in my opinion. He has, however, won the BAFTA for directing The Truman Show and for Master and Commander.

Peter Weir

Peter Weir is one of the greatest living filmmakers.

Next, staying in Australia, we have the versatile…

George Miller (Australia)

George-Miller-directing

George Miller, the second Australian on this list, is the director of the Mad Max films and the Happy Feet animated movies (Mel Gibson and Robin Williams again. I’m sensing a pattern). He has a broad range, to say the least.

But by far my favorite of his works is the brilliant adaptation of John Updike’s The Witches of Eastwick with Jack Nicholson and Susan Sarandon. And yes I quote it all the time. All the time. (In fact none of what comes out of my mouth is my own words)

Here are four fantastic films:

Mad Max (1979)

Mad Max

Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981)

Mad Max 2

The Witches of Eastwick (1987)

The Witches of Eastwick

Happy Feet (2006)

happy-feet

He also directed the segment Nightmare at 20,000 Feet from Twilight Zone: The Movie which is arguably the best of the four segments. He is working on a fourth Mad Max film Mad Max: Fury Road which looks like a step beyond Thunderdome. But even the differences between the first Mad Max and Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior are stark.

George Miller

George Miller is a versatile cinematic master.

And now we travel to Russia for some awkward action…

Timur Bekmambetov (Russia)

Timur Bekmambetov

With tensions rising between Russia and the West, I offer an olive branch in the form of a spot on my Rest of The World list (I got this diplomacy thing) for Russian filmmaker Timur Bekmambetov. Timur combines the action sensibilities of John Woo with the atmospheric artistry of Jean-Pierre Jeunet with a dash of John Carpenter for good measure.

This is of course ignoring the hilariously awful Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (you know what, olive branch rescinded. How you gonna do our 16th like that?) but Bekmambetov has always been a film director who dances to his own drummer.

Here are three awesome films that do not take themselves seriously at all:

Night Watch (2004)

Night_watch

Day Watch (2006)

day watch

Wanted (2008)

Wanted

The duology; Night Watch and Day Watch are two of the most kick-ass action, horror, sci-fi, foreign films I have ever seen. Obviously try to get the unrated versions. He duplicates the kick-ass but leaves out the horror and sci-fi with the American action film Wanted. But then loses his mind with that Abe Lincoln film. Timur Bekmambetov is an acquired taste. Get back to your roots Timur.

Next… we go back down-under for the sublimely beautiful films of…

Baz Luhrmann (Australia)

Baz Luhrmann

Baz Luhrmann may take five or six years between films but it is time well spent. He brings his theatrical sensibilities, that rich atmospheric attention to detail, to his films. He puts in as much time with the costumes and the music and the sets as he does with the actors and the photography.

I would love to compare him to Kubrick but they are completely different animals visually and thematically. But like Stanley, Baz is a hands-on detail oriented task master with a strong idea of the finish product before he shoots a frame of his huge fantastical theatrical presentations.

Here are two beautiful films that are visually and aurally exquisite:

William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet (1996)

romeo-and-juliet-poster

Moulin Rouge! (2001)

Moulin Rouge

Baz Luhrmann can also be called an acquired taste. You either love him or you hate him. And while I fall into the love group, I didn’t like his take on The Great Gatsby as much as other people. I still loved the Baz Luhrmann-ess of it but I didn’t like the music choices and the story itself is so frivolous.

However, as one of the world’s biggest Shakespeare fans (Shakespeare’s collected works was one of my first books as a child), I loved his take on Romeo & Juliet. It was true to the source in all the right ways and updated for this century in all the best ways (I’d say Shakespeare in Love is the only film portrayal of the lovers that I felt was better, and that one was hidden within a larger story). The way I figure it though, we’ll get the next Luhrmann film sometime in 2020. Baz takes his time so be patient.

And finally to the bottom of the dark continent…

Neill Blomkamp (South Africa)

neill-blomkamp

Neill Blomkamp has only made one film that I really liked (but I liked it so much); the amazing District 9. Yet even after the nightmare with the Halo movie (still want that one please) and the disappointment of Elysium (oh so close),  I am still excited to see what he does next. I am endlessly impressed with his vision and I still loved the look and feel of Elysium. We’ll just chalk that up to a sophomore jinx.

Neill and Matt

The world has waited for a sci-fi director with the guts and talent to bring science fiction film back to the realm of real hard-hitting social commentary like it was in the 60’s.

Here is one truly amazing film by Neill Blomkamp:

District 9 (2009)

District 9

In District 9, Blomkamp brings a realism and a documentary feel to a sci-fi drama like I’ve never seen before. An instant cult classic. So good.

district 9 stillDistrict 9 has some of the scariest but most sympathetic aliens in sci-fi history. Can’t wait to see what he does next with the robot drama Chappie.

And that’s it. I’ve separated the filmmakers by region (because I said I would). It was not fun. It was very hard.  I would list my favorite American directors but that would be even harder to do and the list would end up being anywhere from fifty to a hundred names long.

As it is there were 8 to 10 languages (depending on dialect), 5 or 6 continents (depending on… I don’t know… continental drift), 8 or 9 months (I started this thing last June! Mazel Tov), 30 fantastic filmmakers (if I say so myself) and 90 great films.

Now go watch ’em all.

I’ll wait…

– Mel

5 Quick DVD Reviews: March 2014

Five quick reviews is back (and on time for once) I’m actually going to review March releases in March. (I know! I’m stunned as well)

This month I review one animated, one science fiction, one thriller, one action and one drama. So there is something for everyone. I also add the last of the Brit Marling, Zal Batmanglij, Mike Cahill movies that I could find. For a total of six reviews. That’s the five I promised plus one more (we’ll just call that last one a gift with purchase)

To the reviews…

Frozen (Walt Disney Studios)

Frozen

Directed by Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee

Written by Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee and Shane Morris Based on The Snow Queen
by Hans Christian Andersen

Starring  Kristen BellIdina MenzelJonathan GroffJosh Gad & Santino Fontana

Frozen is an animated feature with fantastic music. Let It Go was the song of 2013 sung by the wick-ed-ly talented… Idina Menzel.

Elsa

I love musicals. Especially when they have a good story and great music. Frozen has decent enough animation. But the music is so freaking good they could have done it with stick figures and it would have been alright with me..

Anna

I’m not a fan of musicals where music stops the story, musicals that break into song to just repeat the emotion of the scene. After the song I want the characters to be in a different emotional place than before the song began. The songs in Frozen definitely move the plot. And, like I said, they are amazing.

Anna and Hans

The story is very anti-Disney. The women aren’t waiting for princes to save them. There are no cartoonishly bad, bad guys and sickly sweet good guys. The characters are more complicated than all that. At the center is the relationship between two sisters. The tragedy that separates them and the mysterious powers that keep them apart. It is a good story and would make a good movie without the music. But add the music and it is a great movie with a message for those in fear or in pain; “Let it go.”

Rent it (Then try not to sing in the shower)

Next…

Hunger Games: Catching Fire (Lionsgate)

Catching Fire

Directed by Francis Lawrence

Written by Simon Beaufoy & Michael deBruyn Based on Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Starring Jennifer LawrenceJosh HutchersonLiam HemsworthWoody HarrelsonElizabeth BanksLenny KravitzPhilip Seymour HoffmanJeffrey WrightStanley Tucci & Donald Sutherland

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is the second installment in the Hunger Games series. Some say Catching Fire is an even better movie than the first Hunger Games. I liked the first one better because it introduces a world and its characters and its politics. I have never read the books. But the economic themes, the economic inequality represented in the story, in my opinion, mirrors those of the real world.

Katniss

In our world, Districts 12 & 13 are dirt poor and starving. Fighting each other for scraps of resources in order to survive. In our world, District 1 is encased in gold and platinum just like in the movie, but our capital citizens are not prisoners. They come and go as they choose. And all the other districts are not threatening rebellion. They are too busy fighting among themselves for what little resources they are allowed. Too busy worshipping the obscenely wealthy like gods. Holding aloft a work ethic and an entrepreneurial spirit that doesn’t exist in their gold-plated reality.

They’re just better with their money.”

No they are just better at taking yours.

And it is the outer districts, in our world, that are pacified through mindless entertainment while the capital city is afraid of being thrown to the wasteland.

Jennifer

But in The Hunger Games the author puts this inequality into neat little boxes. Shaded gradually from dark to light. From well-fed to starving. District by district. I love the execution but in our world districts 4 through 9 barely exist. The first one is still my favorite.

Hunger Games

But having said that, Catching Fire is a brilliant sequel as thrilling as the first. Jennifer Lawrence (not my favorite actress but close to becoming my favorite person) is amazing as always. And Catching fire introduces a revolution that is long over-due. (In reality and in The Hunger Games) It’s looking more and more like bloody conflict is the only path (In reality and in The Hunger Games).

Johanna

But of course, it takes loads of money to make a movie. Especially a blockbuster with special effects and high-priced talent. So I predict that no matter how rebellious an uprising it is in the books, they sanitize it and water it down to a nice yeah-but-it-was-calmer-the-way-it-was conclusion. Who wants war? No one wants war, right? Well, sometimes war is necessary. Sometimes it is the only way to get a society back on a progressive path and wrestle control away from those who will not abdicate if asked nicely.

District Twelve

Oh yeah and it was a good movie too with a great cast. Great effects. Cool action and a message to the revolution; “Let it Fly.”

Rent it. (There are no kids killing each other in this one. Just adults killing each other)

Next up…

The Counselor (20th Century Fox)

The Counselor

Directed by Ridley Scott

Written by Cormac McCarthy

Starring Michael FassbenderCameron DiazJavier BardemPenélope Cruz & Brad Pitt

The Counselor is a violent, disturbing and mildly interesting film about the Mexican-American drug trade. It is, at its core, a cautionary tale that begins with a strangely intimate sex scene and gets more and more absurd from there. But the story is bad and the dialogue is god-awful because Cormac McCarthy is too much in love with the sound of his own voice. All of the characters speak in this horribly narrative cadence that sounds awkward. And the cast is incredible. Four of my favorite actors… and also Cameron Diaz.

The Counselor castWith Javier Bardem and Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender and Penelope Cruz, you can’t go this wrong. But Cameron Diaz is asked to carry the lion’s share and she can’t pull it off.

Cameron DiazThe Counselor would probably make a great book but it makes a bad movie. Ridley Scott is not to blame. The fault lies with Cormac McCarthy and his need for every character to be a dime store philosopher. Each one telling stories that sound like jokes or urban legends to a main character who has nothing to offer and no stories of his own.

Javier BardemIt is a bad movie with an amazing cast and directed by one of my favorite directors. But it needed a Quentin Tarantino or a Steven Soderbergh type to stylistically lighten the mood and make the overwrought dialogue not seem so annoyingly superficial.

Pitt and FassbenderRidley Scott does what he does. He gives you the story… unflinchingly, beautifully. He gets great performances out of everyone and gets the best he can out of Cameron (She gives her best performance to date). But it just wasn’t enough. The script as written, presented without visually creative embellishment, is garbage.

CameronThe Counselor should be better than it is because of the sheer amount of talent behind it but these great people could not save it from Cormac and from Cameron.

Skip it. (It is violent. It is disturbing. It is interesting. But also, it is a total waste of time)

Next some action…

Homefront (Open Road Films)

Homefront

Directed by Gary Fleder

Written by Sylvester Stallone Based on Homefront by Chuck Logan

Starring Jason StathamJames FrancoWinona RyderKate Bosworth & Rachelle Lefevre

It is hard to talk about Homefront seriously. It is really dumb but the fights are cool. Jason Statham is still kicking ass. And the story is decent. It just has some incredibly dumb leaps of logic in the story. Homefront is not Sylvester Stallone’s best writing.

Jason StathamJames Franco is good as always. He plays creepy and intelligent like nobody’s business. It’s just that Homefront is so full of clichés and so soft with its subject and I expected more. More fear. More psychological terror. Homefront is tame. After a while I fully expected Jason Statham to only shoot the bad guys in the leg.

Franco and RyderI often call movies dumb on my blog but then don’t explain what I mean. Mostly because I don’t want to spoil them. I shouldn’t care because they’re bad movies but still do because you might want to see them anyway. But here are two dumb things in Homefront:

1) James Franco breaks into Jason Statham house. Jason was a deep cover officer who broke up a biker, meth ring and then resigned. In his house are boxes and boxes with all of his DEA files (what?). Franco picks the one that has all of Jason Statham’s undercover info in it because that is so plausible. The poor guy moves to a new house, leaving his old life behind but takes all of his secret police files (because they belong to him), including one that identifies him as an undercover with pictures of how he looks now.

Statham and Franco2) While they are establishing James Franco as a badass, he kneecaps this meth tweaker with a shillelagh swung from way behind his back full force downward… TWICE!! Both knees. And then he starts talking to the guy and his two friends (this is my town blah blah blah). Then he tells them to run away. He tells the guy, the one who he just busted his knees, to get up and run. No help or anything. That’s just impossi- oh no there he goes scampering away like Usain Bolt or Jesse Owens. Must have been a foam bat.

Franco-HomefrontHowever, if you ignore lapses in logic and the strange editing technique they use, of inter-cutting shots from the next scene over the current scene while it’s still playing – even if some of the same characters are in that scene – (one time was cool but after the fifth time I was tired of it) and also all the clichés. If you ignore all that, you get some cool fight scenes with Jason Statham. Jason, who still kicks ass.

Statham in HomefrontHomefront is a good story but a bad script. Poorly directed and edited. Toned down to an almost made-for-TV level of violence. But the fight choreography is good and the acting is decent. (Except for Winona Ryder, who seemed unnecessary and out of place).

Skip it (Unless you’re a huge Jason Statham fan like me but really it’s dumb and it’s tame)

Next a little drama…

Kill Your Darlings (Sony Pictures Classics)

Kill Your Darlings Poster

Directed by John Krokidas

Written by John Krokidas & Austin Bunn

Starring Daniel RadcliffeDane DeHaanBen FosterMichael C. HallJack HustonJennifer Jason Leigh & Elizabeth Olsen

Kill Your Darlings is another film about some of my personal literary heroes: Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs. It is about their time at Columbia University. These guys lived it, so the story is as powerful as it is true.

Radcliffe in Kill Your DarlingsThe cast of Kill Your Darlings is good (but not great) and the director tries too hard to be artsy and trippy to match the drug use, running the film backwards and making stylistic choices that take away from the story, while Daniel Radcliffe, the young Allen Ginsberg, proves that he has become a very good actor and is only getting better.

Dehaan and RadcliffeAt the heart of this film there is a dance with the varying sexualities of the three writers and of their friends. The story surrounds the relationship problems of two of their mutual friends, Lucien Carr and David Kammerer, the stigma and illegality of homosexuality in the era, and the tragedy that changes the course of all five of their lives.

Kill Your Darlings stillI love the era. I love the music. I love the clothes. At one point during a heist scene the director chooses contemporary music instead of period music and it is yet another bad choice. Even though he uses the great TV On The Radio song; Wolf Like Me, it is unwelcome and jarring. Dude! Use the music from the period and nothing else.

Burroughs Ginsberg and CarrI love these guys, these poets, these writers, these adventurers, because they were working without a net. Life as art. Art as life. Inspiring millions of like-minded travellers to come. Kill Your Darlings shows our heroes at the beginning of their well-storied lives, toward the end of the second world war. A bunch of young rapscallions.

Jack Kerouac Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs with Lucien Carr

I have romanticized these guys, these beats. In books and in some of my favorite films like Howl, Kerouac or On the Road. It’s good for me to, on occasion, watch a biography or adaptation of their work and get inspired again by these pioneers. If I could have just one-third of each of their spirits, their hearts, their talents, their fearlessness, I would be one-third of the way toward being “The me that I see when I see me in dreams.”

Rent it. (I will be adding it to my collection)

Next…

Sound of My Voice (2011, Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Sound of My Voice

Directed by Zal Batmanglij

Written by Zal Batmanglij & Brit Marling

Starring Brit Marling, Christopher Denham & Nicole Vicius

With 2011’s Sound of My Voice, Brit Marling and friends have left me with my mouth agape and nothing to say yet again. I love the feel of their films, and the depth of the emotional weave that they create. I’ve enjoyed them all and Sound of Your Voice is no exception.

The HandshakeIt is the story of a couple who infiltrate a time travel cult. A group that worships a woman who claims to be from the future. A crazy lady who was found living on the street naked doing drugs, doing drugs with the homeless. So they make her their leader.

The CultI love these filmmakers’ work because they don’t always answer the questions they pose. Not directly. They allow you to answer them yourself… or not. That’s my favorite kind of mystery. Solved but still unsolved. It is the best you can hope for on life’s big questions, and these guys; Brit Marling, Mike Cahill and Zal Batmanglij, live there.

Brit MarlingI like their work because there is nothing easy about what they do. I’ve truly enjoyed exploring the films of theirs that I could find: Another Earth (Directed by Mike Cahill), The East (Directed by Zal Batmanglij), Sound of My Voice (Batmanglij) and the upcoming I, Origins (Cahill). When I saw Another Earth, it changed the way I looked at the world (truly) and I liked that, so I had to see everything else. And each one has been a wonderful story that left me in a semi-meditative state. So what was the message I got from Sound of My Voice? “Every cult needs a secret handshake.”

Rent it (Ultra-low budget, great story, well-directed, well-written)

So to recap…

There were three movies about the one woman who will save us all: Frozen, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Sound of My Voice. All of them great. All of them recommended.

And there were three movies about the evils of illegal drugs; making them, selling them and doing them: The Counselor, Homefront and Kill Your Darlings. None of them as good as they should have been.

…and that’s all I wrote.

See you guys later.

– Mel

Batman: Arkham Knight Game Trailer

I’m a little late to this party.

I just started playing the first one; Batman: Arkham Asylum. But I bought the second one; Batman: Arkham City, and I’ll be playing them back to back because the first one is a lot of fun…

But the newest one; Batman: Arkham Knight looks awesome.

Damn that looks good.

I would watch this if they made it a movie.

– Mel

My Top Ten TV Mega Post in Ten Parts! (New Shows 1/10)

It’s been awhile since we talked about how good TV is these days. Time for a Mega Post.

Turn amc

“Any last requests?”
“Yes. I’d like to live to see the end of Mel’s TV mega post. If you don’t mind.”

My last TV Mega Post was a five parter. It included Cable, Premium, Animated, New Shows and All-Time Faves but in the interim TV has gotten TWICE as good and the number of good shows has increased exponentially. Even my ALL-Time Faves have made a few additions. So, this time around I present to you:

My Top Ten TV Mega Post in Ten Parts!!

Ambitious? Yes. Outrageous? Yes. Should I be writing my novel instead of doing this? Yes. But will it be fun to compile and also serve to keep my blog current? I say – YES!

Eva Green

“I’m sorry to tell you this but getting through ten posts about TV, Mel, is just not in the cards for you. Perhaps you should take up knitting.”

So, on this very blog, I will present to you my Top Ten Cable Comedies, Cable Dramas, Broadcast Comedies, Broadcast Dramas, Premium Comedies, Premium Dramas, Imports, Variety Shows, All-Time Faves and My Top Ten New Shows. That’s one hundred motherfucking TV Shows in ten posts.

Bob Odenkirk

“I could do without the potty mouth, mister.”
“Oh geez. We don’t like that kinda talk round here dontcha know.”

But for New Shows this time around I’m not going to list the shows that have just started like I did last time. Shows that I like and that will probably soon be cancelled (like right after I post about them). Nope. For the new shows list I’m going to list shows that haven’t started yet, that are coming later this year and that I’m really excited about and think we should all watch from episode one.

Haven’t done that before. In fact… I think I’m going to start that one right now.

My Top Ten New Shows coming in 2014.

To the list…

First up… Spies.

Turn (AMC, April 6th)

Turn

Created by Craig Silverstein

Starring Jamie Bell, Meegan Warner, Daniel HenshallBurn GormanSeth NumrichHeather LindKevin McNallyAngus Macfadyen & JJ Feild

Based on a book by Alexander Rose this AMC American Revolution espionage drama with a pilot directed by Rupert Wyatt (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) will premiere on April 6th.

Jamie Bell

“Mullet. It’s called a mullet and yes, it did come with the pretty bow. Why do you ask?”

Every war has it spies. This is the story of the American Revolution’s little known spy ring. History, Espionage, Americans w/ British accents. What more could you ask for?

AMC's Turn

“I swear to you gents. I did not steal these photos. It’s not like there was anyone’s name on them. I mean… what’s that? Look to my right? How’d that get there?”

Watch This (AMC has been on a roll. So, I’m hoping for good things out of this one)

Next up… a movie adapted to the small screen

Fargo (FX, sometime in 2014)

fargo-tv-show-fx

Written by Noah Hawley

Starring Billy Bob ThorntonMartin FreemanColin HanksBob Odenkirk & Kate Walsh

Loosely based on the movie Fargo by the Coen Brothers this small screen version boasts an all-star cast w/ Martin Freeman (The Hobbit), Billy Bob Thornton, Bob Odenkirk (Breaking Bad) and Kate Walsh.

Fargo

“…and then he said, ‘Hey Bilbo, you kiss Sherlock with that mouth?’ so I slugged him. I just didn’t see the other two guys behind me… Does it look really bad?”
“It’s hardly noticeable.”

Scheduled for ten episodes, Fargo the series has the potential for greatness, as long as the producers keep the feel of the original, the humor of the original, the violence & suspense of the original. In other words, as long as they respect the source material.

Billy Bob Thornton

Do you want to build a snowman, Billy Bob?

Watch This (with Justified, The Americans & American Horror Story, just to name a few, FX has proven that they can do good work)

Next…

Penny Dreadful (Showtime, May 11th)

Penny Dreadful

Created by John Logan

Directed by Juan Antonio Bayona

Starring Josh HartnettEva GreenBillie Piper, Rory KinnearTimothy DaltonReeve CarneyHarry TreadawayHelen McCrory & Simon Russell 

With a monster cast, this Showtime monster mash which stars Eva Green (Camelot) & Billie Piper (Doctor Who) among others, hosts an amazing array of legendary monsters like Dracula, Frankenstein and Dorian Gray just to name a few.

Penny Dreadful

“So we’re in agreement… We’re all keeping the wardrobe.”
“We do look cool as all hell.”

Penny Dreadful looks to me like it will be some seriously sexy supernatural costumed horror and I, for one, am very excited. And even if it does devolve into campy, Abbott & Costello meets Frankenstein awfulness, this fantastic cast should rise above the material.

Penny Dreadful

“Quickly, son. Just get a badass overcoat on that guy. He’ll feel better.”

Watch This (Showtime costs a little extra but they have Homeland, Nurse Jackie, Masters of Sex, Shameless, Ray Donovan, House of Lies. Seriously Showtime is bringing it hard)

Next… more from AMC…

Halt & Catch Fire (AMC, June 2014)

Halt and Catch Fire

Created by Chris Cantwell & Chris Rogers

Starring Lee PaceScoot McNairyMackenzie DavisKerry Bishé, David Wilson Barnes & Toby Huss

Halt-and-Catch-Fire

The 80s you say? That looks like my garage now.

Halt & Catch Fire (a fictional computer command that would cause a machine to self-destruct) is billed as a Mad Men type show about the rise of the Personal Computer. It’s set in Texas in the 1980’s. I like the cast and the premise but not the Mad Men comparison? Those are some pretty big shoes to fill fella.

Halt

“Don’t be afraid to jump up on this table at any time. In fact, I’m going to do that right now. Who’s with me? I say, who’s with me!!!”

Wait & See (Mad Men is amazing but it’s the acting and writing that does it. Without some of the best acting and writing on TV it would be a boring mess. We’ll see about this one)

Next… we move to Netflix…

Sense8 (Netflix, Late 2014)

Sense8

This is fake. There are no pictures anywhere. Not even a logo.

Created by The Wachowskis

Showrunner J. Michael Straczynski

The Wachowskis, Science Fiction & Netflix… and that’s all you need to know. Actually that’s all the Wachowshis will let us know at this time. 

Wait & See (We’re in the dark about this one but that doesn’t mean we’re not excited)

Next up…

Tooken (NBC, Fall 2014)

Tina Fey

“Hi Mel.”
Hi Tina.
“See you later tonight?”
Yes you will.

Created by Tina Fey

Starring Ellie Kemper

Tooken is a single camera series about a woman who escapes from a cult and lives in New York City. Written and created by Tina Fey, I see good things. Tina has two other shows in the works but this one is already a go for Fall.

Ellie Kemper

“This is not from my new show. This is obviously from some Christmas episode somewhere. What are you trying to pull here anyway?”

Wait & See (Tina Fey produces. Ellie Kemper stars. You had me at Tina but I’m also a big Ellie Kemper fan. So… fingers crossed)

Next…

Silicon Valley (HBO, April 6th)

silicon-valley-hbo

Created by Alec Berg & Mike Judge

Starring Thomas MiddleditchT. J. MillerZach WoodsKumail Nanjiani & Martin Starr

silicon valley mike judge

“Does anybody here remember LAN parties? No? Just me? Well alright then.”

This Mike Judge (Idiocracy, Office Space) sitcom about a tech start-up company has a very funny cast and very funny and creative creators. I expect great things.

Silicon Valley

” I was only trying to…”
“I don’t want to talk about it. Let’s just pretend it didn’t happen”

Watch This (I mean, come on, It’s HBO)

Next up… more from HBO…

The Leftovers (HBO, 2014)

hbotheleftovers

Created by Damon Lindelof & Tom Perrotta

Starring Justin TherouxAmy Brenneman, Carrie Coon, Christopher EcclestonLiv Tyler & Ann Dowd

Damon Lindelof’s post-rapture drama based on the novel by Tom Perrotta looks like it’s going to be really interesting, really mysterious, and probably really good. It is the story of the people in a small town left behind after a rapture event.

Heroes Day Meeting

“Please tell me Kirk Cameron’s NOT gonna be in this… god I hate that guy.”

With another fine cast featuring Liv Tyler (Lord of the Rings) and Christopher Eccleston (Doctor Who), The Leftovers is looking like an unfolding mystery with a touch of the spiritual… but on HBO. So, you know, like Lost… but on steroids.

Liv-Tyler

presented without comment

Watch This (think Left Behind but without all the self-righteous preachiness… I hope)

Next we go to the UK…

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell (BBCA, Summer 2014)

jonathan-strange-and-mr-norrell-by-susanna-clarke

Written by Peter Harness

Directed by Toby Haynes

Starring Eddie MarsanBertie CarvelAlice EnglertMarc WarrenSamuel WestCharlotte RileyEnzo Cilenti & Paul Kaye

Jonathan Strange

“Hey. I’m walking here… I’m walking here!!”

A fantasy drama about two rival magicians who were once friends, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is based on Susanna Clarke’s novel of the same name.

Okay, I couldn’t find any pics from this either. So, sue me… (seriously DON’T sue me)

Jonathan Strange will be a seven part miniseries directed by Toby Haynes [Doctor Who episodes “The Pandorica Opens” / “The Big Bang” / “A Christmas Carol” / “The Impossible Astronaut” & “Day of the Moon” as well as the Sherlock episode “The Reichenbach Fall”]

Watch This (The story and the director are awesome so I’m pretty psyched)

And lastly…

The Knick (Cinemax, 2014)

The Knick

Directed by Steven Soderbergh

Starring Clive Owen

The Knick Cinemax

“Do I still have to hold your purse?”
“Yes… and quit whining.”

The Knick is a medical drama series directed entirely by Steven Soderbergh (Out of Sight, Traffic). It’s the story of New York’s Knickerbocker Hospital in the early 20th century.

Steven-Soderbergh The-Knick Cinemax

“If you don’t stop pointing that camera at me, I will retire again… I swear to god.”

Watch This (I’m loving the way Soderbergh keeps reinventing himself. I can’t wait to see what he does with this Cinemax series)

So to recap…

I have no idea if any of these shows will actually be any good but they all look good to me. With great casts, great creators, great writers, great directors and great source material, these are just a few of the new things coming down the TV pipeline.

More to come…

– Mel