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From the Beginning - An Orphan Black Primer

19 April 2014 10:56 AM, PDT

Guest Review by Darwyn Carson – “Just one. I’m a few. No Family Too. Who Am I?”Last year no one knew what to expect. The burning question was:  “Who is Orphan Black?”  This recap is for anyone who saw Orphan Black’s virgin season and want a fast refresher and for anyone who’s curious about the buzz surrounding the techno-thriller. So if a catch-up marathon event isn’t in your future either, read on for a summarizing of selected season one highlights.There was this girl. Pretty much all we knew and isn’t there always a girl? This one was youngish, sporting a rock and roll street-smart vibe, exhibiting empathetic traits and a quick mind; but not a lot of impulse...

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- Darwyn Carson

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The Last Detective and The Commander On DVD (Acorn Media)

18 April 2014 1:29 AM, PDT

Guest review by Darwyn Carson Right off, I admit there's a soft spot in my heart for British-produced mysteries and dramas. The Last Detective is right at the top of my fav's list. This lighthearted BBC TV-fare, based on the Dangerous Davies novels by Leslie Thomas, escaped my attention until last year after Acorn released season four on DVD. I watched it all one weekend and wanted more. Lucky me: Acorn is distributing the entire series in one package (17 episodes) and I get to see how Detective Constable Davies came to be nicknamed Dangerous—he is not—from the very beginning. Peter Davison stars as Davies, a forty-something man on the fast-track to nowhere in the township of...

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- Darwyn Carson

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A Classic is Born...on Masterpiece Contemporary

18 April 2014 1:15 AM, PDT

guest review by Darwyn Carson With a solid reputation for superior dramas, PBS’s Masterpiece Theatre has undoubtedly been a hard act to follow. Now its close cousin, Masterpiece Contemporary raises the bar tonight with the tightly woven political thriller, Page Eight. Writer-director David Hare (the playwright perhaps best known in the States for his screenplays The Hours and The Reader) has culled together a terrific cast of players led by Bill Nighy that includes Ralph Fiennes, Michael Gambon, Judy Davis, Felicity Jones, and Rachel Weisz. A traditional spy drama, taut with suspense, Page Eight almost feels sophisticated in its darkness, with undercurrents of danger lurking in...

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- Darwyn Carson

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Acorn TV Expands Streaming Service

18 April 2014 1:10 AM, PDT

Guest review by Darwyn Carson - Good news all! Acorn Media Group, the first company to provide live streaming of the best in classic and contemporary British television, recently expanded the service, which launched in July of 2011 with a roster of six series and 40 hours of programming online at any given time. Now viewers have complete episodes of 10 series and 60 hours of programming accessible. There’s so much material—a lot of it never seen before in the States. Two new shows are rotated in weekly (as the oldest shows are rotated out) and remain in the schedule for five weeks, allowing ample time to watch your favorites or never-seens. First episodes are gratis, so if you’re a BBC...

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- Darwyn Carson

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Fading Gigolo

18 April 2014 12:38 AM, PDT

Here’s one of the nicest treats of the year: a sweet, bracingly original, wholly entertaining film from John Turturro with a plum part for none other than Woody Allen. In fact, every role is perfectly and inventively cast—and each player lovingly shot by cinematographer Marco Pontecorvo. What’s more, the soundtrack features jazz great Gene Ammons playing a number of timeless standards. Allen has often said that he has a limited range as an actor, but this part was crafted with him in mind. He’s a delight to watch, looking much younger than his years and firing up his comedic chops as a garrulous friend of Turturro’s who proposes him for a surprising job: acting as gigolo for ...

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- Leonard Maltin

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Transcendence

16 April 2014 9:00 PM, PDT

Transcendence is a good film that aspires to greatness and falls a bit short. Jack Paglen’s screenplay grapples with the always-relevant question of how far science can, or should, go toward creating artificial intelligence. Yet despite the modern setting and visual effects it’s reminiscent of cautionary tales dating back to Mary Shelley and Robert Louis Stevenson. The ultimate lesson: there are some things man was not meant to know. Suspense is muted by the movie’s flashback framework, which reveals the overall ending in the opening scene. Knowing this undercuts the narrative impact of everything that follows, to some degree; it’s just a matter of learning the particulars....

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- Leonard Maltin

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Movie Heaven, Courtesy Of TCM

15 April 2014 5:09 PM, PDT

I’m still recovering from the fifth annual TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood. I don’t experience it as most people do, since I work throughout the weekend, but I have as good a time as the attendees, who come from far and wide and spend the entire time beaming. Because there are so many events going on at all hours, hosted by Robert Osborne, Ben Mankiewicz, and an array of filmmakers, historians, and special guests, I can only provide a (brief) diary of my own experience. On Friday I treated myself to one extracurricular screening: a digital restoration of Cy Endfield’s Zulu, shot in the widescreen Technirama process. It looked great on the giant Egyptian Theatre screen: in...

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- Leonard Maltin

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