It’s hard to believe, but on Sunday night, after eleven seasons, 137 episodes, and one feature-length film, Aqua Teen Hunger Force has finally ended. For much of its airtime, Aqua Teen was a cultural institution; if not as popular as The Simpsons or South Park it was arguably just as hefty in developing the structure of the millennial animated sitcom. Through the series’ four primary characters, egomaniac Master Shake, the naïve dimwit Meatwad, the genius and parental-like Frylock, and middle-aged slacker Carl, Aqua Teen Hunger Force paved a major road in augmenting the eccentricities of adult oriented animation. Debuting in 2001 (though a rough cut of its pilot premiered a year earlier), Aqua Teen Hunger Force became a cornerstone in the development of Adult Swim, setting up the channel’s residence for surreal non sequitur animation and paved the way for shows like The Venture Bros., Metalocalypse, and more recently Rick and Morty. More importantly, Aqua Teen played a pivotal, if unnoted, role in setting up the basis of webisodes: the series’ 15-minute non-canon episodes laid out the guidelines for internet based television, establishing plot quickly and accelerating jokes at a rapid speed.
Out of all the films I saw in 2014, Inherent Vice, Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest, is the trickiest to boil down. When watching the picture in theaters back in December, by midway through the movie it appeared that half the audience had left the auditorium. Paul Thomas Anderson is no stranger in creating decisive films; back in 2012, I similarly remember viewers grumbling after seeing The Master. Yet Inherent Vice is arguably Anderson’s most polarizing yet, creating a divide between the director’s fans and his diehards.
Okay, this may be late news, but on August 4th, Cinematic turned four years old. I know I haven’t been blogging as consistently as I should have and I don’t want to make any false promises saying that I’ll commit to writing here more often (I’ve already done that too many times in the past). But I’ve always been proud of the work I’ve done here and I think some of the most recent reviews I’ve done, such as for Goodbye to Language and Birdman, are among the best I’ve written. So thanks for every reader who has so much as glanced over a post or continuously followed my writing. In the meantime, I’ve been considering expanding my output on WordPress by making a metal blog, but that’s a conversation for another day.
The Daily Show famously held the tagline “the most trusted name in fake news” that was a parody of CNN’s own slogan. Though Jon Stewart and his writers meant it as a jest, his series really was the best, most important figure in dissecting current events. He turned a series that initially began as a lampoon of typical news series into a full on satire that tackled the pandemonium of the Bush years, the mayhem of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, the 2008 financial crisis, and the general discourse causes by news channels such as FOX News. The Daily Show wasn’t just a comedy show, it was a full-fledged satire that became the voice of reason in the chaos of the political world.
As with pretty much everyone else on the Internet, I’m incredibly excited about The X-Files‘ revival, perhaps even more than Twin Peaks‘ reboot. We’ve already got the principal cast returning with David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Mitch Pileggi, and William B. Davis alongside creator Chris Carter and writers Frank Spotnitz, Glen Morgan, Jim Wong, and Darin Morgan, plus we’ll have Joel McHale and Kumail Nanjiani as guest stars. But here’s perhaps the most surprising and perhaps pleasing news so far: everyone’s three favorite conspiracy theorists, the Lone Gunmen, will come back, with Bruce Harwood, Tom Braidwood, and Dean Haglund set to reprise their roles.
The reason this news may be startling is because (spoilers) the Lone Gunmen were killed off during the show’s final season after preventing a deadly virus from annihilating thousands of civilians, a move that disappointed and angered many X-Files fans. Hopefully there’ll be a logical explanation to the Gunmen’s return alongside the Smoking Man’s survival. The X-Files will return next January.
There’s no need to go over lengths about Jean-Luc Godard’s accomplishments. The famed French filmmaker rivals Orson Welles as the most pivotal figure in the development of modern day cinema and his status as one of history’s greatest directors is unquestionable. However, Godard, particularly in recent years, also represents the stereotype of the European film elitist snob, one who pompously sneers at pop-culture outside his reach and derides anything that in his eyes is unworthy of artistic value. Goodbye to Language unfortunately epitomizes the latter trait, too often hammering down Godard’s “life is cinema, cinema is life” idealism with Euro art-movie tendencies. At times it almost feels like a parody of Godard films with a usual mix of ambiguity and startling jump cuts to an overwhelming point.
A few years back, Steven Spielberg announced that he would be adapting Stanley Kubrick’s legendarily unproduced screenplay about Napoleon into a miniseries. Since then, we haven’t heard any developments but now another Kubrick script may see the light of day: The Downslope, a project the director wrote in 1956 back when The Killing was released. Set during the Civil War, the film follows several battles in Shenandoah Valley between Union General George Custer and Confederate Colonel John Mosby, an epic perhaps in between the lines of Barry Lyndon or Paths of Glory.
It’s no secret that Kubrick’s my favorite director, and while I’d love to see The Downslope see the light of day (alongside The Aryan Papers), director Marc Forster is set to direct the screenplay, divided into three for a trilogy of films. Forster’s main credits include doing that James Bond movie no one liked and World War Z, which despite its surprising box office success was one of the most heavily ridiculed films of 2013. While he’s not a terrible director, Forster doesn’t have the background or sublety to take on the satirical biting edge that defines Kubrick’s work, making the entire project seem misplaced. The Downslope seems to be more suited for a Kubrick prodigy such as Paul Thomas Anderson, but under the hands of Forster may just implode on itself.
But who knows? A. I.: Artificial Intelligence is a misjudged masterpiece in my eyes, and The Downslope may end up being as good as that. On the downside, it could be as messy as 2010 or perhaps just be discarded. But what do you guys think?
During the past eight years, Matt Weiner has forced audiences to question who really is Don Draper. Since 2007, we’ve discovered that Don is a liar, a coward, a cheat, and many other things. For most of Mad Men’s run, Don has been steadily amoral about his situation, not often questioning his stature and integrity for his own personal crimes. Over the last seven episodes, though, we’ve seen Don attempt to come to terms for who is really is. He endows a million dollar check to Megan, attempts to forge a real relationship with a waitress named Diana, and ultimately leaves McCann, despite having the once in a lifetime opportunity to work for Coca Cola, to search for his own identity.
A while back, David Lynch announced Twin Peaks would be returning to TV. Lovers of fine television then celebrated with this joyous news, only to be crushed when Lynch withdrew from the project because of a dispute with Showtime over payment. It would seem that the television as a medium had given viewers a cruel tease, offering a shameless M. Night Shyamalan rip-off instead. But fortunately both parties have resolved their differences and now Lynch is back on set to direct all of the upcoming episodes.
It’s good to hear that Showtime sucked it up and gave Lynch what he wanted. In even better news, there will now be more than the nine episodes scheduled, meaning we’ll see more of Agent Cooper and co. come next year. Between this and The X-Files reboot, there’s a lot to look forward to in 2016.
A few days ago, the first full trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released and promptly caused the Internet to go insane. Chances are if you’re reading this you’ve already seen the video several times as well as scrutinized the ad nauseam of press about its release. The frenzied hype behind the trailer (much of it do to featuring a brief clip of Han Solo and Chewbaca) has pretty much already secured The Force Awakens as the biggest release of 2015, and possibly the decade so far.