Leonard Nimoy Represented the Best of Humanity

Categories: Film and TV

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Nimoy in a publicity still for Star Trek III: The Search for Spock .
Leonard Nimoy has died at the age of 83. Both on camera and off, he exemplified the best of what Star Trek, and thus humanity, could represent.

Part of that was Trek's writing, of course. But it was Nimoy who took what was on the page — often repaired what was on the page — and brought Spock alive, making a half-human, half-Vulcan with pointed ears the most relatable character on the show. Not everyone is a Captain Kirk, or would even want to be, but Nimoy's portrayal of Spock touched on a key human experience: the sometimes unbearable difficulty of having emotions. He brought a truth and an authenticity to the role that kept it from ever descending into camp, no matter what the script called for him to do.


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Archer Sags into Middle Age in Its Sixth, 'Unrebooted' Season

Categories: Film and TV

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FX Network
Sterling Archer, world's greatest spy, worst father.
TV shows aren't too different from people in at least one respect: The longer they've been around, the less interest they tend to garner. But the sixth season of FX's beloved spy spoof Archer is like few others. It's an "unrebooting" of the previous year, in which creator Adam Reed, reportedly bored with his own show, jettisoned virtually everything about it at the height of its popularity. Archer Vice, as the fifth season was called, found the animated cast peddling cocaine and country music after the disbanding of ISIS, the show's espionage agency, by the federal government in the season premiere. Vice was a bold gamble, but unfortunately a flameout of a season; the show's stakes changed too fast and too furiously for viewers to keep up or care.

Now that it's gotten its midlife crisis over and done with, Archer is moving out of its mistress' apartment and returning home to do right by its family again. It promises things are gonna be different from now on — ISIS is gone forever, and there's a baby in the mix now — but it's also gonna be the same show fans fell in love with in its prime.

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Podcast: Winners, Awkward Moments, and Losers from the 2015 Oscars

Categories: Film and TV

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There was an awkward moment between Fifty Shades of Grey star Dakota Johnson and her mom, Melanie Griffith, on the red carpet before the Oscars on Sunday. But the world got to see Johnson's impressive talent for pretending uncomfortable situations don't seem to bother her (see also: Fifty Shades of Grey). It was an eventful Oscars, and that was only the start. Your Voice Film Club hosts Amy Nicholson, Alan Scherstuhl, and Stephanie Zacharek break down the 2015 Oscars winners and losers, while Amy and Stephanie unveil their all-time favorite Oscar dresses. Plus, Amy tells us about how Channing Tatum is going to blow our minds in the new Coen Brothers movie, Hail, Caesar! As always, send mail to filmpod@villagevoice.com and follow us on the Twitter at @voicefilmclub.


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Film Pod: Kevin Costner Eases White America Into the Present with McFarland, USA

Categories: Film and TV

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Ron Phillips/© Disney Enterprises, Inc.
Disney's McFarland, USA

Kevin Costner eases white America into the now with McFarland, USA, we hear about the Berlin Film Festival's highs (Queen of Earth) and lows (Knight of Cups), and dip into the lukewarm waters of a second Hot Tub Time Machine movie. Also, there's much praise for teen comedy The DUFF and Wild Tales, a movie filled with stories of humans acting badly. We also hear about the plight of Fluffy, the cat owned by film director Alex Ross Perry. Your hosts (Amy Nicholson, Alan Scherstuhl, and Stephanie Zacharek) are joined by film critic Jordan Hoffman for this week's feature-length pod. As always, send barbs, jabs, claims, or jokes to filmpod@villagevoice.com and follow us on the Twitter at @voicefilmclub. Read all of our movie reviews, interviews and news over at villagevoice.com/movies.


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Five Reasons Why Fox's Empire Has Become a Breakout Hit

Categories: Film and TV

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Empire
Empire most certainly wasn't built in a day, but its reputation as a breakout hit has been made in virtually no time at all. Since the series debuted six weeks ago, every episode has drawn more viewers than the one before it. Buoyed by positive reviews and especially word of mouth, its ratings trajectory is quite simply bonkers, making the Fox midseason replacement a genuine cultural phenomenon.

For those who haven't yet caught up with the hip-hop soap, Empire is the brainchild of director Lee Daniels (The Butler, Precious) and screenwriter Danny Strong (The Butler, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Parts 1 and 2). Equally inspired by King Lear and Dynasty, it centers on the mighty but shattered Lyon family, headed by rapper turned music mogul Lucious (Terrence Howard). Recently diagnosed with ALS and anxious about his legacy, Lucious makes a horrendous decision: to make his three sons compete for the throne atop Empire Enterprises, the family business. Also demanding a say in its direction is Lucious's ex-wife Cookie (Taraji P. Henson), newly released from prison after 17 years after taking the fall for the couple's drug deals.

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Three Great Movies to Get You Through Hollywood's Winter Dead Zone -- at Home

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Le Pont du Nord, now on Blu-ray.
BY MICHAEL ATKINSON

In the olden days, what month it was never mattered to movies. But today the late winter months are well-known as a weedy boneyard of mouth-breathing Hollywood castoffs, and we explore it at the cost of our patience, time, shekels and optimism. For the love of everything holy, stay home — warm, high, popcorned, in pajamas, in chosen company, and with an infinity of choices at your disposal. If you don't, Jupiter Ascending 2 will be your fault.

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Podcast: Fifty Shades of Grey, Starring Sex Batman

Categories: Film and TV

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Chuck Zlotnick
He's rich. He's handsome. He's got a secret. He's sex batman.

Fifty Shades of Grey is opening is nationwide, and in New York, Village Voice film editor Alan Scherstuhl connects via the magic of the Internet with LA Weekly film critic Amy Nicholson discuss the hotly anticipated movie starring Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson, adapted from the E. L. James novel. Amy also shares her favorite movies from the recent Sundance Film Festival, and Alan goes to bat for The Last Five Years, starring the Internet's favorite person, Anna Kendrick. As always, send barbs, jabs, claims or jokes to filmpod@villagevoice.com and follow us on the Twitter at @voicefilmclub. Read all of our movie reviews, interviews and news over at villagevoice.com/movies.


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Berlin Film Festival: In Knight of Cups, Malick Doesn't Even Get the Shoes Right

Categories: Film and TV

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Melinda Sue Gordon/Dogwood Pictures
Knight of Cups
The steps leading to the altar of Terrence Malick are practically a safety hazard, cluttered as they are with assorted offerings of frankincense and myrrh, bouquets draped with sashes that shout "Good job!" and perhaps a virgin sacrifice or two. Critics and certain moviegoers love him that much, which explains why Sunday's screening of his latest, Knight of Cups, playing in competition here at the festival, was the hottest ticket in town.

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Berlin Film Festival: Jafar Panahi Tweaks Iran and Sharia Law in Taxi

Categories: Film and TV

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BERLIN — Riding from the Berlin-Tegel airport to my hotel on a crisp, sunny day last week, my cab passed the magnificent golden angel statue known as the Victory Column, a monument erected by the city in 1874 to commemorate assorted Prussian military victories of the day. But people all over the world who care about movies know this statue as the congregation spot for angels in Wim Wenders’s 1987 Wings of Desire, a picture that was filmed in a very different Berlin, one still bisected by a wall. As we drove by, I spotted a young woman posing for a photograph at the foot of this seemingly mile-high pillar; three nearly identical black-and-white dogs clustered around her, all aspiring to at least a minimal degree of obedience. This little scene — people and dogs enjoying the city on a beautiful winter day, using a massive and regal monument as the backdrop for a casual family photograph — made me extremely happy to be returning. How many cities boast a welcoming angel that’s also among the most famous of all movie locations?

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5 Films to Catch at the Thin Line Film and Music Festival in Denton

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Don't miss The Immortalists at Thin Line Fest.

By Stanton Brasher
One of DFW's longest-running festivals, The Thin Line Film and Music Festival, returns this month with a mouth-watering slate of international selections. From the Rangerettes of Kilgore, TX ("Sweethearts of the Gridiron") to the inner thoughts of children all over the world ("I am Eleven"), Thin Line aims to be an international showcase for diverse and interesting films. 

Being a member of the selection committee has its perks. Yes, I have seen every documentary submitted by filmmakers from all over the world. Some of them were amazing, while others were dreadful. Here are my five personal favorites and the ones that any documentary-hungry film nerd should put on their Thin Line itinerary.

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