Normally the smell of old produce can be unpleasant, but I can't tell you how happy I was to see the Onion Knight again. And it wasn't merely because Ser Davos, the fingerless former right-hand man of Stannis, appears to have as much trouble reading books as you people think I do. No, the sight of Davos being freed from the Dragonstone dungeon warmed my heart and seasoned this entire excellent episode because it was a reminder of just how wonderful Game of Thrones can be when it digs in instead of spreading out.
I've judged the past two weeks harshly not because there wasn't enough action but because there was far too much of it: the camera whooshing from here to there and back again, like a three-eyed raven on a four-day coke binge. Believe me, I understand that the epic scope of this story demands multiple perspectives and myriad narrative threads. Even someone who hasn't read a word of George R.R. Martin's prose can be suitably stunned by the sheer size of the world he's created, the way small butterfly wings of culture, history, and pride beating on one continent can cause empires to fall on another. That Game of Thrones has a tendency to feel diffuse is more a byproduct of the medium than an indictment of the maestro; it's not easy taking a Hound-sized plot and cramming it into Arya-sized installments every week. Having too many wonderful characters to service is a good problem to have, one that other showrunners would walk through wildfire to experience. But it is a problem.
J.J. Abrams's second go-round on the Star Trek carousel was the top dog at the box office this weekend, with $70.6 million accrued over the weekend and $84.1 million in the bank since it opened on Wednesday. But that's actually $16 million less than Paramount forecast, the Los Angeles Times reports. Promising signs for the movie include the fact that it has managed an A rating at CinemaScore, and that its international box office is healthier than it was for the first flick: $80.5 million has already been stacked in the exotic climes of not-America. (The Times credits, in part, "Efforts made at the script level more action, less allegory." Which, duh. Everyone knows German people, among many others, hate allegories.) The Hangover Part III and Fast & Furious 6 hit theaters next week, so Star Trek Into Darkness will have some fiercer competition soon enough. And so, when the story of STID’s box office performance is ultimately written, the big question might remain. Would it have made more money if the colon hadn't been inexplicably, bewilderingly left out of the title?
Summer is coming, which means a new season of The Bachelorette is nigh. This week ABC gifted us with the bios of Des's 26 prospective guys. I highly recommend you keep them handy as you listen to our podcast, as we go in-depth about each guy's responses and the abundance of deep-V-neck shirts. You can never overprepare for The Bachelorette. We also do a final roundup of the outstanding season of Survivor and mourn the breakup of one of our favorite Real World couples.
"Multiple sources" report that Beyoncé is pregnant with her second child. After canceling a performance in Belgium (and citing those old mythological maladies "dehydration and exhaustion" as the cause), rumors began to swirl, as rumors do. Beyoncé has said that Blue Ivy "needs some company" with whom to watch Nets games at her Barclays crib, so I guess they've decided to create their own playmates for her instead of adopting one of us (we offered). Have fun with that diaper pail, Bey. Adults come house-trained and won't try to put your diamonds in our mouths. I'm just saying.
Silver:The Chronicles of Riddick’s box office catastrophe lost Vin Diesel all the equity he’d acquired after The Fast and the Furious (having already spent a significant amount of it on the lackluster xXx, which landed in between FF 1 and Chronicles). He practically became a Hollywood pariah, forced to take on roles like Shane Wolfe in The Pacifier — the special ops stud who's a fish out of water working his new assignment as a bodyguard to a suburban family. You know, roles normally reserved for professional wrestlers trying to break into mainstream film or for action stars on the decline. It wasn’t until he slipped the shiny-white, two-sizes-too-small, Hanes V-neck back over his head and returned to the Fast and Furious franchise as Dominic Toretto did audiences start caring about him again.
So my question is this: Why go back to the role that practically sunk his career? Is it hubris? Or is it that he and writer-director David Twohy believe that they can actually recapture the simplistic terror of Riddick’s first onscreen appearance in Pitch Black, and not recycle the monotonously bloated Chronicles?
I’d like to believe it’s the former. And this trailer provides evidence that this might actually be the case.
It's pretty baldly manipulative for Kelly Rowland to nab The-Dream and make a sultry confessional about an abusive ex-boyfriend that's also about her complicated relationship with Beyoncé and call it, with all the subtlety of a closed fist to the eye socket, "Dirty Laundry." That doesn't make it any less ballsy or interesting, though; please, listen now. In related news: Hiring The-Dream to write your songs for you is always a good idea. Hell, hiring The-Dream to do anything for you is probably a good idea. I'd pay that guy an exorbitant amount of money to clean my rain gutters.
Welcome to our newish series, Rembert Explains the '90s. Unlike the source material for our previous, '80s-themed series, these videos have been seen countless times, with the result being an unparalleled, almost embarrassing level of expertise. Rembert will write down his thoughts as he's watching the video, then we'll post those thoughts here. This week's installment, selected by Grantland editor Juliet Litman, is the time Color Me Badd made a cameo on Beverly Hills, 90210 (Season 2, Episode 26, 1992). If you have an idea for a future episode of Rembert Explains the '90s, e-mail us at email@example.com.
Note: This feels more like an '80s clip, because I did not watch Beverly Hills, 90210, but all is not lost in the "expertise" department, seeing as I know everything about the discography and wardrobe decisions of Color Me Badd.
If you read the huge story in The New Yorker last fall about the making of Cloud Atlas — three directors, a gigantic budget, a protracted development process — you would probably assume that the final result would be a mess. And it is. Kind of.
Cloud Atlas is based on a very fancy novel, with six story lines taking place over a span of hundreds of years. The movie's conceit is to have the same actors pop up in all six story lines, sometimes playing opposite-sex characters, sometimes playing characters of other ethnicities (the latter choice leading to criticism of the film for putting several non-Asian actors in "yellowface"). Unlike the book, the film cuts among the story lines from scene to scene, which can be disorienting, but the effect works. Kind of. Cloud Atlas isn't the kind of film one can recommend unreservedly — it's crazy long; it's also just crazy — but I'll say this for it: I was never bored.
Whatever doesn't deafen you makes you stronger: Grantland's Jay Caspian Kang, Mark Lisanti, and Emily Yoshida have returned, bowed but not broken, to tackle another season of American Idol. Their journey is now at an end, a winner has been crowned, the confetti has fallen — but the biggest questions of all are still on the horizon.
Did the correct person win?
Kang: Is this even a question? Kree seems like a nice girl and all, but she shouldn’t have even made the final 12. There are 1,500 ways to sing country — you don’t even really need functional vocal chords (R.I.P. Townes Van Zandt) — but what you can’t do is pout during happy songs and fart around when it’s time to connect with the audience. That’s what Kree did week after week and if she had won, I might have actually made good on my annual threat to never watch this show again. As it turned out, the right girl won and I’m excited to return next season with four all-new judges!
A little more than four years ago, the J.J. Abrams–directed, franchise-rebooting Star Trek arrived in theaters to the breathless anticipation of a millions-strong fan community simultaneously filled with the hope they'd found themselves an energized, engaged custodian willing to respect Gene Roddenberry's sacrosanct vision, and the palpable fear that a big-timing Hollywood interloper was about to ruin everything they'd ever cared about, then escape through a wormhole made of money before they could exact their revenge for the appalling desecration. But Abrams said all the right things (except, you know, for letting it slip that he was always a Star Wars guy) and delivered blockbuster entertainment enjoyable by both the hard-core Trekker and the casual summer blow-’em-up-real-good moviegoer. The new, revitalized Star Trek opened to $75 million at the American box office and eventually finished its domestic run with a phaser-engorging $257 million. A franchise was reborn.
And so we fast-forward to stardate 05.16.2013 (note: not a valid stardate), four summers hence, and Abrams has returned to deliver the inevitable sequel, in fulfillment of the contractual prophecy etched into the wall of a Spock-sheltering ice cave by an advanced race of business-affairs aliens. Can Abrams once again pull off the massively profitable trick of satisfying both the core and summer audiences before tearing off his loosely affixed latex Vulcan ears, slipping into a Jedi robe, and taking stewardship of his childhood obsession? And, most important of all, should you support this latest Trek adventure with your ticket purchase? We're here to answer some questions and help you make the best-informed decision possible.
The deck might initially seem stacked for Ashley, the dental hygienist, because our baby Bachelor really showed his hand early by revealing that he'd "like to get the big girl." But we've seen enough seasons of this franchise to know that it's still anybody's game at this stage, and it'd be unwise to put all your dinosaurs in Ashley's basket just yet. Watch out for Franki. She's clearly playing to win.
This week in reality TV, we saw Cochran crowned as the ultimate Survivor, Hurricane Nia fall victim to rogue sex toy attack, and, you know, THAT. The tremendous vision above marked the high point at the climax of what was a legendary season of Survivor. [Buckshot Shorty voice] Let's take a sec to think back
Cochran (Survivor, Simmons), 50 points: As Chuck Klosterman masterfully pointed out in his Probstian Podcast, Survivor all too often rewards the wallflower. The backstabbers, challenge-winners, and manipulators are left wiping the blood off their hands and hoping for fan favorite. This season was different.
Day 1 of this festival is usually the great unveiling. Day 2 begins the collective carping: Why on earth is this film up for the Palme d'Or and not this other one? The two major programs here — the main competition and the second-tier slate, Un Certain Regard — have very different outcomes. One puts you in the running for a handful of prizes, this year from the Steven Spielberg jury, no less. The other tends to make people scratch their heads about why the likes of Spielberg won't get to evaluate the films in it. The bafflement began in earnest today with the premiere of The Bling Ring, Sofia Coppola's teen caper movie in which a handful of affluent kids steal the stuff of famous Hollywood people.
I don't know that it was brave of Coppola to turn Nancy Jo Sales's Vanity Fair article into a movie, but I'm impressed by her unself-consciousness in repeatedly X-raying lives of privilege — be it the lives of artists, royalty, or losers. She's not the kid in college who dressed like a hobo while her family's name was etched into a building or two. She's proud of her Coppola-ness and legitimately curious about the side effects of prosperity — ennui, aspiration, perversion, delusion, decadence, mono- and megalomania. In another person's care, The Bling Ring could have been a total satire, and there are certainly satirical bits, like having Leslie Mann play the sort of dingbat mom who homeschools her kids with that life-improvement cult-fad The Secret. But Coppola is up to something smarter than a pure lampoon. She zeroes in on the universal insecurities that would turn lots of teenagers, of every class, into followers: the dream of being cool.
This weekend's Saturday Night Live has the auspices of greatness. It's not only the season finale, but also the last episode for Bill Hader (and quite possibly for Fred Armisen and Jason Sudeikis as well). And while Hader has already said there's nothing as dramatic planned for his good-bye as Kristen Wiig's lovely "She's a Rainbow" bit — they gotta do something nice, right? Also: Ben Affleck returns to host, but this time as an Oscar-winning director and if you think somehow Matt Damon won't be getting involved to cut his buddy down to size, youh ahh fawkin' crazy. And then there's Kanye as a musical guest: Not only is he embroiled in the most dramatic childbirth process since that of Jesus, he's also got a God-complex album everyone can't wait to hear. Plus, the last time he did SNL, it looked like this.
Zach Galifianakis explained to Conan O'Brien last night why he quit drinking (besides the benefits of a two-ounce weight loss). Crossing the street after a whiskey-soaked evening, Galifianakis made the mistake of clocking the hood of a Jaguar containing "two 6-foot-6 guys — 12-by-12," angering them enough that they exited their vehicle to spit in the comedian's face ("I don't know if you've ever been spit in your face non-sexually"). The beer bottle ZG threw at the retreating car in retaliation missed, fortunately, but he did not thank the whiskey for that. Rude.