It was an exceptionally seasonable March afternoon in Louisiana that a group of reporters piled into a bus headed through rural Louisiana toward the exterior 'Salem' set in Grand Cane, located in a farmland forest that entirely concealed the grandeur within. Mind you, I’d never been on an exterior set visit for such an elaborate period drama, let alone one that constructed a working town of 25 exterior buildings (and 13 custom interiors) against the backdrop of a scenic lake, which itself we’re told would be digitally expanded to better emulate the Massachusetts coast.
WGN America’s ‘Salem’ will hit the tubes this weekend as the network’s first original scripted drama, and, more now than ever, I remember the quick response director David Von Ancken ('Hell On Wheels') gave during an on-set interview for ‘Salem,' as I asked what message the network intended to convey with such a bold choice for its first original. “We’ve arrived,” he shot back, a phrase I’d repeat multiple times throughout the weekend.
Hollywood has rarely had much faith in the future.
Just look at the sheer number of cinematic dystopias and post-apocalypses, at the deadly desert wastelands and rain-soaked urban nightmares. In the movies, tomorrow is not just another day, it's just another step toward a world where technology consumes us and then kills us. According to the world of film, the human race is constantly on the path to being enslaved and murdered by the machines we create.
Although Hollywood's stance on the evils of technology has softened in recent years, 'Transcendence' is a throwback to a different age, when computers were not just terrifying unknowns, they were pretty much Satan. It's a position that may seem silly in our modern, tech-infused culture, but it's another chapter in the long history of technology trying to dominate humanity on the big screen.
I’ve been aware for a few weeks that the 25th anniversary of ‘Say Anything’ was approaching and I’ve kind of gone out of my way to ignore it – even though there’s no doubt it influenced my teenage life more than any other movie. But, good grief, did this movie ever influence me to do some stupid things that I've suppressed from my memory. For one day only, I'll bring one of these memories to the surface.
Last night, as the dust settled on the news that Stephen Colbert would be taking over ‘Late Show’ from David Letterman at some point in 2015, I was engaged in a conversation that drifted toward just how someone qualifies to be a viable candidate for a network late night talk show in the first place. More specifically, how is it that 28 years ago, a woman actually did host a network late night network talk show and, now, in 2014, that would seem almost revolutionary.
I'd walk by a sports bar and roll my eyes. I'd scoff when people would choose to attend a game instead of doing something reallike go to the movies. Growing up just outside San Antonio, Texas, I managed to attend my fair share of Spurs basketball games, but the bug never bit me. When Tim Duncan and his team were at the height of their powers, I was busy watching movies and re-reading my tattered copy of Roger Ebert's 'The Great Movies' and explaining to everyone I knew how superior my taste was (I was a huge, awful jerk).
Little did I know that the the media I embraced would be the thing that would turn me around on the entire issue of sports. Like something out of a science fiction movie, movies would inject me while I wasn't looking, transforming me into a sports fan.
There are some actors that I just inexplicably root for. I have no idea what this means or why I do this, but the best way I can explain it is that it’s almost as if the actor is a sports team and I want that actor to win. But at least with sports, there’s regional pride to fuel a sometimes unhealthy rooting interest in what are essentially strangers. There’s really no explanation as to why I feel this with an actor like Nicolas Cage. But, yet, I do.
Admittedly, I never felt too outraged over the ending of last summer’s ‘Man of Steel.’ (Yes, there will be major spoilers ahead.) The complaints over Superman breaking the neck of his foe were certainly valid – therefore changing the very definition of the character – but it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the film. That changed after seeing ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier.’
Somewhere, deep within my father’s mid-Missouri basement, are at least a couple of large boxes filled with an assortment of Betamax and VHS tapes filled with episodes of ‘Late Night with David Letterman.’
I wish someone would comb through all 1,819 episodes of Letterman’s ‘Late Night’ and put them on the Internet in easily digestible video clips like we see every morning from Fallon, Meyers, Kimmel, Stewart, Colbert and even Letterman’s own current ‘The Late Show.’ Yes, some of this stuff is on YouTube, but you kind of have to know what you’re looking for to be able to find it. It’s difficult to come across the hidden gem.
As its title implies, 'Captain America 2' is largely inspired by Ed Brubaker and artist Steve Epting's celebrated, Eisner-award winning comic book storyline "The Winter Soldier." Although ultimately very different from what transpires in the big screen version, the broad strokes remain the same: Steve Rogers finds himself hunting, and being hunted by, a ruthless assassin who may or may not be his supposedly dead best friend, Bucky Barnes.
The movie uses Brubaker's Captain America run to fuel the first half of the film and provide an antagonist who can serve as an emotionally hard-hitting threat to the star-spangled Avenger. However, while it's the most obvious, it's not the only Marvel comic run heavily quoted in the film. There's another acclaimed comic series that not only informs the biggest twists of 'Captain America 2,' but suggests what crazy new direction the Marvel cinematic universe is heading toward on both the big and small screens.
As we head further along the 30-year nostalgia train that is 1984, the “rock star who stars in a movie that has the same title as his current album” tributes will be saved for Prince’s ‘Purple Rain’ – which, if you’ve watched ‘Purple Rain’ lately, you’re kidding yourself if you think it at all holds up (though, the rock club scenes are pretty great); but it’s certainly an interesting film. Deservedly overlooked (well, except here, I suppose) will be the other film that falls into that esoteric category … Rick Springfield’s ‘Hard to Hold.’
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