The Interview

Much ado about . . . ?

DIONNA!

In Episode 171, Dionna stops by to discuss modeling, life, love, and hate. She's smart. She's talented. She's beautiful.

Germar hosting at thestreamTv!

Watch the Agent Carter After Show!

Big Movies

Reviewed

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Kendall Jenner: a luminary of youth

by Melissa Scott

After hiring a ghostwriter last year to pen a young adult dystopian novel, Rebels: City of Indra, with her sister Kylie, Kendall Jenner appears ready to take on journalism with the Wall Street Journal. Of course, I can hardly attest to the fact that Kendall’s writing talents are sub-par, since I never actually read the book (who did?). But whether or not she wrote the WSJ piece herself, her input still comprised of a painfully dull, and Kardashian-Jenner-classic, contribution. 

For the February issue of the magazine, WSJ focused on the topic of youth—what is it, what does it mean, and how does it affect today’s society. Six chosen “luminaries” of youth gave a short weigh-in on their views: Tim Howard, Goldie Hawn, Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, Dr. Frederic Brandt, Maira Kalman, and Kendall Jenner.
Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Apart from Jenner, the luminaries discussed the changes they felt as they grew older, and the experiences they carried from their youth through age. Howard discussed his maturity as he embraced his challenging role as goalkeeper for the U.S. men’s soccer team in the 2010 and 2014 World Cups, noting that “You get more experience, you take fewer risks, you understand the nuances.”

Hawn recalled the child-like associations of her acting career, pretending to be someone else, until she realized the importance of growing older and learning through time. She explained that the worst thing would be to live forever, since “finding love and getting older and sharing the stages of life as we move through them is probably the most important thing we can learn to do.”

Kalman and Brandt both agreed that many people try to hold on to youth in a positive way—for a boost of confidence or a reminder to enjoy an individual freedom. Kalman, as an author of children’s books, indulged “there is no expectation to be correct. To be able to be wrong is such an incredible gift and luxury.” Brandt, a dermatologist and founder of Dr. Brandt Skincare, added his belief that “there’s a psychological aspect to feeling youthful and good about yourself.”

Interestingly, Arnett addressed the youth of Jenner’s generation—“emerging adults” between the ages eighteen and twenty-nine, and the struggles faced by members of this group. “Young people are now required to have an awful lot of self-discipline and motivation,” the psychology professor declared. “There can be a depression that comes from that individualism, having to make these decisions by yourself. People are on their own more than at any other time of life.” Arnett thoughtfully concluded his piece by mentioning the focus of social media for such “emerging adults,” and the possibly ignored positive impacts it has. “One thing that counters this is they get so much support from social media now, which they’re sometimes criticized for,” he wrote. “But I think older folks miss that it’s a crucial form of support when you might not have anyone else in the room.”

Finally, given the chance to assert her own views on youth, alongside such prominent figures, Jenner managed to disappoint. She carped about her rapid “maturity” as part of the Kardashian-Jenner family, stating that she was thrust into the working world from a young age. “I feel like I grew up too fast a long time ago. Having older siblings, you grow up around adults, so you mature more quickly,” she began. “I saw my sisters and parents working every day, so I was pretty much brought up to be a workaholic.”

Understandably, Jenner was only eleven years old when thrown into the spotlight of the reality show, Keeping Up With the Kardashians, although I would hardly categorize the show as a job, or “work.” But it wasn't Jenner’s reference to her maturity or hard work that was so exasperating in her writing—it was her reference to her social media spotlighted family.

While her association with the reality show and the Kardashian “clan” obviously brought her fame, I imagine Jenner was chosen as a luminary for other reasons. After walking her first fashion week runway in February 2014, she since became the new face of Estée Lauder, booked a campaign with Marc Jacobs, and continued to walk for high-end designers like Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Diane von Furstenberg, Tommy Hilfiger, Balmain and Givenchy—an amazing feat for a young, fresh model barely a couple years into the profession. Jenner’s successful career as a model is clear: she has the look, the talent, and the commitment. Maybe her family’s name helped her gain an entryway into the business, but Jenner made a name for herself as a model through her own doing. If any of the Kardashian-Jenner family can break free from the reality show business and succeed in another career, it’s Jenner.

So despite an initial irritation at her selection to contribute to the WSJ, I can understand her label as a youthful luminary. These six individuals are regarded as influencing others, or standing out in a particular area. Jenner certainly does that. But then she should have written about her experience as a youth model, not part of the Kardashian-Jenner group. If Jenner had given an opinion of the challenges she faced as she became the spokeswoman of Estée Lauder as a nineteen-year-old, or perhaps the mature responsibilities she had to take on so quickly, her piece may have been much more laudable. Instead, she wrote, “My sister Khloe always says to me and my younger sister, Kylie: You have your whole life to be an adult but only so long to be a kid.” Well, that’s great. But WSJ wanted to know what you think Kendall--not Khloe and Kylie.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Kingsman: The Secret Service

20th Century Fox
In Episode 181, Germar welcomes Elise Micheals back to the podcast. They discuss and review an early viewing of the soon to be released Kingsman: The Secret Service. There are absolutely NO SPOILERS HERE. So listen to them first, then decide if you want to head to Grauman's and spend that $19.95.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

by Alyssa Couball, Writing Intern


Sequels have to go above and beyond expectations to really have a “wow” effect on me. After watching Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, I am nothing short of amazed. Directed by Matt Reeves (who directed the movie’s first installment), the movie reveals what happened to Caesar when cameras stopped rolling. It begins ten years later as Caesar rules a large group of evolved apes, living a self-reliant lifestyle in the woods, just outside of San Francisco. Nearby, an exhausted group of human simian flu survivors struggle to exist. Their best hope for survival is to get to a dam and get power going. The only problem? The dam dwells deep in ape territory. 

Human leader Malcolm (Jason Clarke), and Caesar (Andy Serkis) must develop a level of trust and care and quickly to allow the restoration to take place. Fellow ape and lieutenant Koba, who lived through grotesque experimentation in the previous film, challenges this hope for restoration. Caesar pleas with Koba: not all humans are bad. But, his bitterness takes over. Koba leads an attack on the human’s city. It’s up to Caesar and Malcolm to join forces, stop Koba, and restore peace to both groups. 

In its opening week, “Dawn” grossed $66 million. So, why do I think the sequel’s above expectation? One, computer graphics. I could actually feel Caesar’s pain based on his facial expressions and body movements. Sure, apes riding horses while holding machine guns is absolutely laughable. But, each ape had his/her own quality or “personality” that made the movie overall astoundingly realistic. 

Two, it was incredibly long. Why waste time watching an hour and a half movie? I like movies that actually last. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes runs about 2 hours and 10 minutes. It didn’t lag like other movies either. It kept my attention. It’s complete action from beginning to end. 

Lastly, I enjoyed the movie’s message. In the first movie, the message portrayed what animal experimentation can lead to. I think we assume, based on the film’s history that humans and apes will be fighting each other. This time, however, apes fought each other. Throughout the entire movie, Koba tries to persuade Caesar not to trust the humans because all humans are bad. His feelings are understandable, after the horrible treatment he received at the hands of humans. He couldn’t transition like Caesar. Caesar learned to trust humans; he had an open mind. The movie also teaches that we can’t always trust those closest to us. Koba acts as Caesar’s right hand--someone he can always turn to. By the end, Koba kills his own son. Humans weren't Koba’s real issue. His real issues stem from his jealousy of Caesar’s power. 

The film does have holes. Where in the world is James Franco? If I have one sequel-based pet peeve, it’s when they don’t keep their original characters. Sure, the movie explains from the beginning that most of humanity is wiped out by the flu. And, Malcolm, Ellie (Keri Russell), Alexander(Kodi Smit ­McPhee), and Caesar visit Caesar’s old home where he and Will once lived. But the house seems as if it’s been abandoned for years. The audience is left completely confused about his whereabouts. 

The ending is a bit confusing as well. It ends peacefully. Caesar reestablishes peace and control over his tribe. The humans were able to get power and hopefully restore humanity. The immediate conflict is over, but Caesar knows--much like viewers know--that war is forthcoming. It seems to be apparent in each of the “Ape” movies that war is inevitable. 

A new “Planet of the Apes” movie will be released in 2016. And this time around director Reeves says, “I don't necessarily think that there will be as big a leap between films.” There is a ten year gap between “Rise” and “Dawn” that the sequel did not explore. I just hope the next sequel is as good as its predecessors. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Girls Gotham Flash Arrow

The CW
In Episode 180, Germar finally catches up on everything in television. Girls, Gotham, Arrow, and Flash are all BACK!

American Horror Story: Freak Show - “Curtain Call” recap & review

by Melissa Parkin

Dandy Mott’s new reign over the freak show isn’t proving to be a positive thing. His tyranny in fact pushes everyone to the breaking point. During a spat, Amazon Eve punches Mott in the face, and the rest of the gang teams up against him. Thereupon, every last member of the troupe quits. This doesn’t seem to deter Dandy though. Donned in stage makeup and a sharply tailored white suit, he declares, “Showtime.” Casually sauntering through the fairgrounds, he’s approached by Paul, then produces a handgun and shoots the Flipper Boy on spot. Everyone scrambles in an attempt to flee as Mott moseys about, killing off one member after the other. Amazon Eve manages to get the jump on him, but Dandy eventually bests her. Bound and gagged, the twins are taken hostage by Dandy, leaving only Desiree to escape from Mott’s clutches. Unaware of the recent massacre, Jimmy walks into the freak show come nightfall, stumbling upon the corpses of his family splayed out inside the main tent. Desiree appears to him, and they embrace one another in bellowing grief.
Photo by SAM LOTHRIDGE/FX
The unimaginable occurs as a wedding takes place at the Mott residence. Bette and Dandy tie the knot, with Bette seemingly in pure bliss. Following the ceremony, the three convene for dinner. Dandy becomes woozy all of the sudden, finding a couple of unexpected guests crashing the meal. Desiree and Jimmy join the twins in their revelry as they reveal to Mott that they’ve drugged him. Dandy passes out, only then to wake up chained and shackled inside Hardeen Houdini’s escape tank. Mott begs Bette to let him go, in which she declares utter hatred for him. Dandy finally gets his just desserts as Desiree cranks the knob, allowing water to pump into the glass tank. Sobbing and screaming, Mott slowly succumbs to the building water levels, and eventually drowns.

Elsa Mars finds herself in Hollywood, but Tinsel Town is being anything but friendly to her. During a spat with a secretary in the lobby of WBN, a kind stranger comes to Elsa’s rescue in the form of Michael Beck, the junior vice president of casting at the network. Fast-forward to 1960, and Elsa Mars is on top of the world. Honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, this Emmy winner couldn’t ask for more…or so you’d think. Apparently, getting everything you wished for isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. Even with a home in the Hollywood Hills and the world adoring her, she finds her life void of true love. Massimo surprises her, and Elsa begs him to whisk her away. Despite his love for her, he solemnly refuses the offer due to his terminal illness.

Elsa falls deeper into despair as it’s revealed that a reporter has obtained the grisly 8-milimeter footage of Elsa’s snuff film, where she lost her legs back in Germany. It’s only a matter of time before the story is released, and destroys her public image. Her past comes back to haunt her even further as she also discovers that the troupe from Jupiter had been murdered all those years ago. The network demands Elsa performs for a Halloween special, which she initially rejects. With these new revelations though, she’s all too willing. On her final episode of The Elsa Mars Hour, this headliner delivers a show stopping number. During the live broadcast, the cameras pan out through the television sets to show Desiree happily married with a family of her own, along with a pregnant Dot and Bette beside Dot’s husband, Jimmy. 

Elsa’s insistence to perform summons Edward Mordrake. Mordrake sees her sacrifice for what it is: a suicide. She gladly welcomes Edward’s reckoning, only to find herself transported to another afterlife. Returning to the fairgrounds of Jupiter, Florida, Elsa walks into the main tent. The entire troupe is there, welcoming her with open arms, including Ethel. She’s returned to her family at last.

Freak Show’s “Curtain Call” goes out with a glorious bang. As the season’s finale, a lot was riding on tying up plenty of loose ends in little time, and it delivered. Finn Wittrock still remains the strongest of the pack for his callous portrayal as the sadistic Dandy Mott. With his deadpan expression and soft show tune humming, his chilling delivery during the freak show’s massacre is positively praiseworthy. In addition to his gratifying demise, the return of some familiar faces (Wes Bentley, John Carroll Lynch, and Kathy Bates) from past episodes rounds out a satisfying conclusion. The writers deliver a solid script with pungent dialogue that serves the cast and crew so flawlessly. The only thing I personally would have liked to see is what happened to Stanley. Did Mott kill him as well? That spat aside, Freak Show’s finale proves to be one of the best for its season.

American Horror Story: Freak Show – “Curtain Call” Episode Rating:  A

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Pretty Little Liars: “Over a Barrel” recap & review

by Melissa Parkin

The Liars convene at Ezra’s bookstore to fill in each other on recent discoveries. “A” proves that there truly is no rest for the wicked. As Aria vents her anxieties to Emily, over the letter she sent to get into Talmadge, the cash register goes haywire. A massively long receipt is spewed out, and Aria’s fear hits an all-time high. Her entire letter to Jackie is written out on the bottom portion of the slip, along with a message from “A” declaring, “This kind of lie will stay on your permanent record.”

Following their argument outside the bookstore opening, Spencer and Toby are still having a hard time finding middle ground as well. She’s trying to save the group from “A”’s sabotage while he’s trying to stay true to the uniform. Unsure of her future plans, Spencer frets over the bus loads of college acceptance letters pouring in. Her worries are put on the backburner though when her cell rings, and she gets a text from…Mona?
Photo: ABC Family/Getty Images
It’s an alert sent by the security company in regards to Mona’s laptop, giving each of the Liars the GPS coordinates to the computer’s location. Hanna, Emily, and Aria have to pass on the opportunity to recover it though, as they've got business of their own to take care of. Emily is at odds with her new work colleague, as she deals with Paige’s recent departure. Hanna can’t get her mother to open up about her weekend fling with Alison’s brother. This problem only worsens as she’s informed that Ted, Mrs. Marin’s boyfriend, is back in town and preparing to propose to her mom.

Aria receives an anonymous message from someone simply identifying themselves as “H.” This mystery person claims to be tired of running and wishes to meet her at the Grill come noon. She’s set out on a wild goose chase; “H” is a no-show. “H” then tells her to go to the flower shop on Maple and Prescott. The florist there gives her a bouquet with instructions to deliver them to Hanna’s house. Inside the gift is a card supposedly from Jason, hinting at the affair between him and Mrs. Marin. Things only get more complicated when Ted pops the question during dessert, leaving Hanna’s mother floored and without an answer.

Spencer and Caleb head over to the storage place specified in Mona’s alert. The pair take a page out of the John McClain handbook and crawl through an air duct vent to sneak into the shrouded locked unit. Upon arrival, they discover plastic wrapped evidence stored on all the shelves, including Mona’s laptop and even bloodstained clothes. Fingering Holbrook as the culprit, they realize that “A” is building a falsified case against the Liars for Mona’s murder. After a scare from a regular Heisenberg suit, Caleb and Spencer come across a large barrel in the corner of the unit, along with a large batch of antacid tablets and denatured alcohol. When mixed with water, the toxic brew can either preserve a corpse, or completely dissolve it. The electricity cuts out just as Spencer prepares to open the barrel. The two bail out without resolve as to its contents, but Caleb does discover something when he returns home. He tracks down the name on the storage unit, hoping to pin Holbrook to the evidence inside. Instead, he finds Hanna’s name on the rental agreement, and he’s more than convinced that Mona’s body is in it.

The mystery this week is the highlight of the show, but the character development seems to be lacking. With the series favored for its suspense and epic romance, it’s disappointing to see melodrama clogging the runtime. Aria’s guilt in regard to Ezra doesn't feel overly critical. Considering the ups and downs those two have been through, Aria’s letter to Jackie amounts to that of a speed bump. Emily doesn't really get the chance to properly grieve over her loss either. Can’t a girl get a little time for mourning? The biggest problem with the recent storyline is between Spencer and Toby. After everything this beloved pair has gone through together, the “moral” conflict now standing between them just feels exaggerated. They used to be the strongest couple on the show, but things suddenly hit the fan because…why? The chemistry between Caleb and Spencer proves to be the best out of the cast this week. Spencer’s neurotic mindset alongside Caleb’s banter and matter-of-fact attitude blends well. Hopefully, the melodrama plaguing the current storyline will wrap itself up quickly to avoid unnecessary tension. If the writers can tighten things back up, and focus on the heightened sense of paranoia that makes the show so noteworthy, PLL will be back on track.

Pretty Little Liars: “Over a Barrel” Episode Rating:  B -

All Things Marvel (thestream.tv)

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Parks and Rec: the final season

by Kelsey Barritt, Writing Intern            

After a long wait, and serious withdrawals, Parks and Rec fans got exactly what they wanted. The show finally started their farewell season this January, and it did not disappoint. Although the show looks to be much different than past seasons, our favorite Pawnee government employees bring just as much laughter as ever.

Oddly, this season begins in the year 2017. The writers definitely have fun with this. They constantly embed jokes that include predictions like “Hitch 2” or a new Jason Bourne movie. The characters also have transparent tablets used for communication and web surfing. Other than that, Pawnee, Indiana remains the same. City Hall still displays graphic Indian-fight scenes. The characters’ lives in the year 2017 are almost exactly what would be expected. Leslie works on creating national parks. Tom actually made it; he’s a restaurant mogul. April and Andy still avoid adulthood like the plague, and Jerry now goes by Terry.

Photo by David Shankbone
One aspect of 2017 does surprise viewers. For some very vague reason, Leslie and Ron become mortal enemies. They come head to head in the season premier, and Ron alludes to Leslie still being upset about “morning star.” Viewers wonder what this means, but know it was most likely a collision of Leslie’s ambition and Ron’s simplicity. Classic character quotes fill the entire premier. Whether it is Leslie saying she will start to cut back on work at age 100 or Ron claiming he’s never known what bangs are and doesn't intend to learn--personalities have not changed. Often, it seems like lines are only there to remind viewers of the characters’ personality traits. They can be unnatural and almost annoying.

For the most part, Parks and Rec provides laughs throughout the entire premier. And of course, a Tammy appearance is mandatory. Ron’s absolutely insane ex-wife comes back crazier than ever, but with new prey. Megan Mullally flawlessly makes viewers cringe in the worst best ways possible. She truly gives the show a boost when necessary. This time, her appearance gave a needed distraction from the confusion of the future.

While this unique setup evokes interest, it also brings quite a bit of disorder for a final season. Starting the season so late already caused dismay. Because it takes place in the future, there are so many gaps in the plot and unknown background that viewers may lose interest. The previous seasons wowed and may have been game-changing. Now, the show will inevitably bounce all over the place and constantly need explanation. Parks and Rec took a rather large risk here. Time will tell if it pays off.

If fans learned one thing in six seasons, it’s that Parks and Rec does not disappoint. It doesn’t. Outrageous, enthusiastic characters like Leslie Nope make viewers laugh at her, and themselves. Quirky duos like April and Andy evoke a goofy appreciation. Stoic, simplistic characters like Ron Swanson add a much needed reality check.  This show provides epic moments consistently. It would be a shame if this odd switch hurt its validity and legacy.

Viewers should keep faith that Parks and Rec will continue to thrive; they've earned our trust. The time change will most likely cease to be relevant, and the cast will be up to their usual antics. Every now and again we may be distracted by little nuggets of the futuristic time period. But Parks and Rec just does not have the ability to disappoint fans. Fans should only be disappointed by the fact that this is the last season.

            

Monday, January 19, 2015

Meryl Streep nominated for her first Academy Award—this year

by Sofia Squittieri, Writing Intern (with Germar Derron)

Photo by Paul Drinkwater/NBCUniversal via Getty Images
Surprise! The academy has nominated Meryl Streep again. Again? Yes, again. One word explains her continued success—work.

She works. She’s good. No, she’s great. She delivers her best every time, and in every single performance. She gets even better with time--and work. Aspiring, and acclaimed actors look up to her. Julia Roberts, who worked with Streep in August: Osage County, said: “To work with Meryl Streep is a dream come true for anyone. To know her is an honor.” Chris Pine, who worked with Streep recently in Into The Woods—the newly nominated role—said, “She is everything that you want her to be. She is obviously, you know, Meryl Streep and mega talented.” Mastering your craft is powerful. Practicing, screwing up, starting over--working—leads to mastering.

Meryl Streep is considered a legend; she is a legend. Margaret Thatcher, and Julia Child, came back to life thanks to her performances. Audiences cried with Francesca Johnson in The Bridges of Madison County,  laughed with Lisa Metzger in Prime, and feared Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada. That same year, she danced, sang and jumped around as an immature, amusing, cute, irresponsible, and promiscuous mother of Donna in Mamma Mia! We watched her play a serious and contained Sister Aloysius Beauvier in Doubt. How is she able to maintain this versatility? What is her working method?

When asked about her acting method, in 2006, Streep said:
I have been smug and willfully ignorant. I've cultivated a deliberate reluctance to investigate my own method of working because I'm afraid of killing the goose. I'm afraid if I parse it I won't be able to do it anymore. Acting is an art that I find in its deepest essence to be completely mysterious.
 Anything I might add would just sound silly.

The Academy has nominated her 19 times already, including just last week. But she has “only” won three Academy Awards. Jack Nicholson, another talented workaholic actor has earned 12 nominations, resulting in three golden bald men. Sometimes the world isn't fair. Other actors undeniably deserve this award and have not won it yet. Leonardo DiCaprio works his fingers to the bone--since he was five. He deserved the award for The Wolf of Wall Street. But the Academy disagreed. And no matter how many actors deserve it, only one can have it.

But why are so many people concerned with winning an Oscar? What does it really mean? Does it mean the highest recognition of your work? It definitely improves the IMDB cred, but are we measuring work or fame?
           
There are two kinds of famous actors: 1) type one works and becomes famous because of that hard work. In this group, I would include actors like Sean Penn, Idina Menzel, Al Pacino, and Kate Winslet. Type 2 are famous and work because of that fame (e.g., Paris Hilton, Allison Williams). 

If there is a formula for good acting Ms. Streep has found it--or designed it.  And whether she wins or not, she probably understands that it’s not about the accolades but the work—a life’s work.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Justice League: Throne of Atlantis

In Episode 179, Germar reviews the latest DC animated film. But first, he talks about realizing your dreams and still not being paid. And of
course he has to cover why in the world a grown ass man would ever watch a cartoon.