The Promise of Netflix’s House Of Cards

Given my background in politics, I am naturally excited about a new TV drama that is set in Washington D.C. like Netflix’s House of Cards is.  Add in that Kevin Spacey is the lead actor in it and famed director David Fincher involved it seems like it has potential to be a great show.  The show is a remake of the original UK  version of the same name. I watched the UK version a few years ago on Netflix and will be neat to see how they adapt it to the U.S. setting.

Likely touch on this more in a future post, but it is interesting to see Netflix get into the original content business with House of Cards and the relaunch of Arrested Development.  Instead of Netflix just licensing tv shows and movies made by other companies.  Will be interesting to see how it works out for them here in the long run.

Impatience with ‘How I Met Your Mother’

imagesOne of the creators of the TV show ‘How I Met Your Mother’ Carter Bays in a recent interview talks about fans impatience at not yet meeting the mother referenced in the title. In the question before this Bays talks about the last girl Ted dates before meeting the mother.

Is she actually the last girlfriend? We’ve seen him try to do that before and it doesn’t go anywhere.
Bays:
 I know, but this will be the one that tops all of those. … I know people are impatient and we appreciated the impatience. I would contend that most people who watch the show watch it this way. We’re not trying to jerk anyone around, but if the series has a point, it’s not about the destination, but the journey. It’s about these five friends. We’re not making ‘Mad About You’. It’s not ‘How I Romanced Your Mother’, which would be a great show and there have been great iterations of that, but that’s not the show we’re doing. I appreciate people’s frustrations and would maybe ask them to forget the show’s title. If we had called it ‘Ted and His Buddies’ or something, maybe there’d be fewer complaints.

via How I Met Your Mother Boss on Show’s Fate, Barney’s Proposal and More – Today’s News: Our Take | TVGuide.com.

For me I have been impatient with the show really in the last two years. I have felt like they simply have not given fans enough clues or hints towards the mother to help tide us over until they finally decide to reveal her.

Also some of the reason I have had less patience with the show is that simply I have not enjoyed the journey as Bays referenced above as much as in earlier seasons.  Maybe not a surprise since when I have felt this it has been during seasons 7 and  the current season 8. It is an older show which is not a surprise that it gets harder to continue having good story lines after so many seasons.  Maybe if I was still enjoying the journey I would not be as impatient as I am now about who the mother is.

The follow-up question to what I posted above touches on the connecting issue I have with the show:

Does that imply that we won’t see the courtship of the mother?
Bays: I still can’t say. [Laughs] But we’re going to start, I’m sure, frustrating a large segment of the viewership by answering a couple of small questions this season here and there before getting to the big shebang. We will get a couple more glimpses of her this year.

Personally I don’t to really want to for the first time meet the mother in the series finale and then have the show end.  I can accept Bays saying that it is the journey to meeting the mother, but at some point I want to met her and get to know her for more than one episode.  I feel like they could give new life to the show if they introduce the mother as a new full-time cast member and stop stalling.

As the show now stands I am really only continuing to watch because I have been a fan from the start.  For me the show has fallen from a must see show or one that I want to catch up on if I miss an episode to not really caring if I miss a new episode now.

Edit: Of course tonight’s (12/17) two new episodes were good after I wrote this post in which I pored cold water on the quality of the show.  Will see if they can keep it up, which I hope they can.

Why Spielberg does not view ‘Lincoln’ as a biopic

I read a good interview with Steven Spielberg about his latest film ‘Lincoln’ that provided good information about the making of the film. This section of the interview from Deadline.com struck me the most because this answer really showed to me what Spielberg did with the film. How he made it more successful having a tighter focus on what areas of Lincoln to show.

DEADLINE: This is just my opinion, but I felt that you and Tony Kushner kept Lincoln from being a succession of scenes of backroom politics and blustery speeches by making it a caper movie, where the heist was basically all the maneuvering that went into passing the 13th Amendment that abolished slavery, before accepting the South’s surrender. As you were putting this together did you approach it as a biopic?

SPIELBERG: I never saw it as a biopic. I sometimes refer to it as a Lincoln portrait, meaning that it was one painting out of many that could have been drawn over the years of the president’s life. Had I done the entire presidency, or his entire life, that would have qualified as biopic.

via Steven Spielberg On Making ‘Lincoln’ — Interview.

In another interesting part in the interview Spielberg relays from a historian how even for a figure as large as Lincoln one could get lost if you tried to tell a story about the Civil War, because of the war itself being so vast.

First footage of Star Trek Into Darkness

The first trailer that is out for “Star Trek Into Darkness” has certainly made me excited for the film.  I think this film might be the one I am most excited for in 2013 I think.  I have been a long time Star Trek fan, so already some built-in excitement for me.  Still can’t tell who the villain is that Benedict Cumberbatch will be playing in the film yet from this footage.

Steven Spielberg the historian with his movie Lincoln?

Lincoln PosterThe New York Times has an interesting piece on how Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” actually might be advancing the way the historians look at Lincoln with what the movie speculates about why Lincoln’s reasoning was on two different subjects.  One of those being why Lincoln pushed so hard to get the 13th Amendment passed before the new Congress came in later that year.  Here is an excerpt from the post about one of the ways the movie could be advancing the way we look at Lincoln.

The movie, directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Daniel Day-Lewis as the 16th president, makes two especially interesting historical arguments.

The first is to explain why the passage of the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery, was overwhelmingly important to Lincoln in January 1865. The issue is not why passage was important; the movie explains that clearly enough. Instead, the problem is to explain the frenzied work to pass it in that month. As the historian Michael Vorenberg has observed, “No piece of legislation during Lincoln’s presidency received more of his attention.” Why the all-out effort in January, in a lame-duck session before a newly empowered pro-Lincoln Congress began? If Lincoln had waited until March, he could have called a special session of the new Congress, confident of having enough votes for House passage.

The question has long vexed historians. The movie’s answer is that Lincoln and his right-hand man in this work, Secretary of State William H. Seward, realized that the war might end at any time and that, when it did, any prospect for passing the amendment as a means to win the war would end with it.

This is an intriguing argument. But the book the movie cites as its main evidentiary source, Doris Kearns Goodwin’s “Team of Rivals,” does not make it. 

via Steven Spielberg, Historian – NYTimes.com.

The second argument is about the connection between the peace talks and getting the votes Lincoln needed for the 13th amendment.  The full article is a great piece to read and I would recommend reading it if you like Lincoln or history.

Why you should see the movie “Lincoln”

Two weeks ago I was lucky enough to see a preview screening of the new Steven Spielberg film “Lincoln”.  Possibly because I have an interest in politics and history (my two majors in college) I was already predisposed to like this movie, but I greatly enjoyed the film.  While I have not seen every recent Spielberg film, I think this is one of his better films in a while. Though the movie is not fast paced or action packed, it had enough movement to not make it seem slow to me.

The basic setting of the movie is from January to April of 1865, when Lincoln was trying to pass the thirteenth amendment to the constitution abolishing slavery and the U.S. Civil War was coming to an end. It worked out well that Spielberg chose a small part of Lincoln’s life to make into a movie. If he had not I do not think he would have been as successful as he was with this film.  The time frame that they ended up choosing for the film I think worked well.  They picked a period where there was a lot going on for Lincoln not just with the war exclusively, but also the hard fought battle of one of Lincoln’s bigger legislative fights that he faced with the thirteenth amendment. The time they picked helped to show the continuing cost the Civil War was having not just on Lincoln but the country as well.

For me the cast led by Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln did a great job all around.  Lewis portrayed Lincoln excellently and very convincingly brought him to life I thought, showing the conflict and great stress that the war and the amendment fight brought to Lincoln, along with his family issues he faced. Tommy Lee Jones also did a great job as one of the politicians working for passage of the amendment.  If Daniel Day-Lewis does not get Oscar nomination I would be shocked.

The issue of equality was the great issue that was at stake during the discussion of the thirteenth amendment. I think it is still very relevant to our country today in a different way  at least to me.  Today we are fighting about whether people can marry whom ever they want to marry legally. Having just gone through a tough constitutional amendment fight here in  Minnesota about whether we should ban gay marriage it is a very divisive issue still and bet it will be for a while.  While that connection may not come up for every one who watches this movie, but since I saw this movie before the 2012 election that issue was certainly on my mind.

Overall I think you have a lover of history or Lincoln himself I recommend seeing this film.

The movie is based on Doris Kearns Goodwin‘s biography of Lincoln, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln.  Trailer for the film below:

Zero Dark Thirty Oscar Contender?

Given the people involved with the new film Zero Dark Thirty dealing with the hunt for Osama Bin Laden, I knew this movie had a good chance at being in the running for various Oscar awards. After seeing the second trailer for Kathryn Bigelow’s film Zero Dark Thirty, I see nothing that changes my mind.

Kathryn Bigelow’s previous film The Hurt Locker  won her Best Director and Best Picture along with 4 other oscar wins for the film.  I was impressed by The Hurt Locker so I was glad to see that she had decided to do this movie.  Besides Bigelow and the topic the movie is covering, I like several of the actors in it, Jason Clarke (The Chicago Code) and Jessica Chastain (The Debt) among others.

For me at least, all of these factors make it a promising upcoming film. As you can tell, Zero Dark Thirty is one of the films I am excited for this fall/winter movie season.

A great look at Aaron Sorkin and his new HBO show Newsroom

Cast of HBO’s Newsroom

Vanity Fair has up a great piece on Aaron Sorkin and his new HBO show Newsroom that will be premiering Sunday, June 24, 2012.  The piece is on the longer side, but I enjoy that when it is on a subject I enjoy.  The article gives you a great sense both in terms of the way Sorkin works and what the new show Newsroom will be like.  Here is one quote on one reason Sorkin creates TV shows:

Sorkin, who has been criticized for credit hogging—most often, the television writing process is highly collaborative—defended his method. “I create these shows so that I can write them,” he said flatly. “I’m not an empire builder. I’m not interested in just producing. All I want to do is write. I came up as a playwright—writing is something you do by yourself in a room.

“That said, I couldn’t possibly write the show without that room full of people. I go in there, and we kick around ideas. I’m writing about all kinds of things I don’t know anything about. So they do research for me.” Argument ensues. And, for Sorkin, happiness. “I come from a family of lawyers, all smarter than I am,” he said. “I grew up really enjoying the sound of intelligence and the sound of a great argument, and wanting to imitate that sound.”

This next quote is a bit obvious sense can tell from the shows he has created but still gives some insight into why he creates the shows he does:

“I really like workplace shows,” he continued. “I like creating workplace families, and writing about people who are very good at what they do, and less good at everything else.”

Finally a quote about the way Sorkin writes the way he does, which as he as says himself, he is wordy:

“I’m pretty wordy when I write,” Sorkin said, putting it pretty mildly. In an era when images have largely muscled out words, and much film and television dialogue feels like a succession of one- (or half-) liners, Sorkin’s scripts hark back to the passionately idealistic, speech-rich screenplays Robert Riskin wrote for Frank Capra’s Mr. Deeds Goes to Town and Meet John Doe. Actors love him for it—it gives them more screen time, after all, and a chance to really strut their stuff. In return, there’s a price to pay.

via Aaron Sorkin’s Newsroom: Sneak Peek at the New HBO Show | Hollywood | Vanity Fair.

There is many more interesting things in the article so make sure to check it out.  In the end the article certainly helps keep my enthusiasm for Sorkin’s new show high.