Reviews for the Easily Distracted:
Fury

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Title: Fury

Can't Get Enough of Those Nazis. Even better, most of the bad guys in the movie are SS, which are, like, the Naziest.

Rating Using Random Objects Relevant to the Film: Three and a half Rommels out of five.

Brief Plot Synopsis: Veteran WWII tank commander must contend with rookie driver while trying to survive the 2nd Armored Division's final push into Germany.

Tagline: "War never ends quietly."

Better Tagline: "Das Platoon."


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American Horror Story: Freak Show: Greatest Show on Earth

Categories: Film and TV

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Without delving too far into hyperbole, this is without a doubt the best season of American Horror Story yet. Though it's the one I was the most worried about liking, it's managed to capture the perfect mixture of horror and regular dramatic television.

Let's start with Twisty the Clown (John Carroll Lynch), our strange, homicidal masked killer. Somehow this show has taken a one-dimensional killer trope and turned it into the potent mix of slapstick and spine-tingling awfulness that made the first Texas Chainsaw Massacre the unique film that it was. He gets a profound amount of screen time this episode, and he uses every inch of it to amaze and disturb.

He's onto at least his fourth murder now, the latest taking place in a toy shop in a scene that will definitely haunt your nightmares. However, it's coming from that killing where things really get going. Oblivious to the fact that he looks like Hell's fast-food mascot, Gloria Mott (Frances Conroy) stops him on the side of the road and invites him home to entertain her crazed, spoiled son Dandy (Finn Wittrock).

What follows is a duel of insanity that may never, ever be topped. How weird is it that you are actually looking at a guy in a rotting clown outfit that you know for a fact has murdered and kidnapped with brutal glee and you're feeling bad for the guy because he clearly regrets having accepted a gig with an obvious nutter butter. At times, this season takes the "real monsters are inside" metaphor a little wide on the turns, but there's no denying that Dandy is far more stomach-churning than any human oddity on display.

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America's Next Top Model's Chris Hernandez's Take on Reality TV

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America's Next Top Model: Season 20
I'll admit it... I'm a little embarrassed that I watch America's Next Top Model, but I love it and I'm not big into watching reality TV shows. For me, ANTM is the exception because it captures the reality of the modeling world... or at least I think it does. Models sometimes get a bad rap, but anyone who watches this show knows that it's not an easy industry to deal with...So that got me wondering what life is really like for one of these ANTM models.

I got together with Chris Hernandez, one of ANTM's top male model contestants from its 20th cycle, and grilled him about the modeling/fashion industry and his opinions on reality TV.

Q: What's your take on the fashion industry?

"The fashion industry has changed with the emergence of social media. It used to be about your book, looks and modeling skills, the ability to sell whatever it is you are modeling. Now it's more about how many followers you have following you on social media."

Q: What was your experience like on America's Next Top Model?

"It was a great experience and I learned a lot and got to meet some great people. It was definitively stressful, but what competition isn't? I am very glad that I was given the opportunity to be part of ANTM."

Hernandez said the only bad part was that he learned that reality TV isn't always reality television.


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Adrien Brody Shines in Houdini, the History Channel's Television Mini-series Now on DVD

Categories: Film and TV

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Courtesy of Lionsgate
Harry Houdini, the 19th century illusionist and escape artist, has been the subject of various biographies. Tony Curtis starred in a popular bio-flick in the early 1950s and for many contemporary viewers, that film remains the benchmark performance. Academy Award winner Adrien Brody stared in a two-part television mini-series, Houdini for the History Channel. (The production is now making its way to DVD.) Though it's more than 60 years later, the new Houdini doesn't rely on camera tricks to wow its audience, but on Brody's talent.

The set-up: Based on Bernard C. Meyer's book Houdini: A Mind in Chains : A Psychoanalytic Portrait, this is a look at not only what he did but why he did it. His drive to excel, we're alternately told, comes from his desire to escape the poverty he knew as a child, to win his overly strict father's approval, to outdistance the doubt and fear that plagued him throughout his adult life. Which is true? All of them, none of them. For the purpose of the mini-series, those reasons are as good as any others.

The two-part series follows Houdini as he moves from small time sideshows to bigger stages and better tricks, eventually becoming the most famed illusionist in the world . Along the way, we're shown the the physical workings of his marvelous escapes and illusions (the ingenious hiding places for keys to the handcuffs and locks, the fake floor that lets him pass "through" a brick wall). It satisfies our need to know, but also leaves us a bit disillusioned.

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4 Werewolf Films Worth Seeing Before Halloween

Categories: Film and TV

Werewolf movies have been a part of the horror film pantheon since 1935, When Universal released "The Werewolf of London." Since then, lycanthropy has appeared on the silver screen countless times, and been presented in many different ways.

Werewolves in movies usually deal with themes of the bestial nature of man being freed to its most dangerous extent, with a person afflicted by the curse grappling with the consequences of that murderous rage being unleashed.

Since Halloween is around the corner, I thought it might be nice to look closer at a few of the more interesting werewolf films ever made.

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American Horror Story: Freak Show: The Show Must Go On

Categories: Film and TV

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I honestly wasn't looking forward to this season of American Horror Story. Coven descended into such weird madness near the end that I wasn't entirely sure that I was watching the same show I had begun. Let's just say that sometimes the knowledge that Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk created Glee comes roaring back into focus.

And freaks? Really? Are we going to honestly do something that still feels like we were all living in a Ray Bradbury for a century? It seemed like a very cheap pop, but I have to admit that the show finally regained some of its gravitas.

Jessica Lange is back in charge once again, though honestly I think it would have been nice for her to sit a season out. It's not that she's bad in Freak Show. Far from it.

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Alternative Scary Films for the Halloween Season 2014

Categories: Film and TV

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So last year I provided a list of 10 scary as heck films as an alternative for the typical films we watch every Halloween. Here's this year's version for the spooky season.


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Film Podcast: Twin Peaks Returns, The Judge Disappoints and Whiplash Drips with Jazz

Categories: Film and TV

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Miles Teller in Whiplash
Alan Scherstuhl and Stephanie Zacharek of the Village Voice, along with LA Weekly's Amy Nicholson, open this week's podcast with a brief discussion of Twin Peaks, which comes back to TV via a series on Showtime in 2016, and move onto The Judge, starring Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall, and then to Whiplash, starring Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons.

The gang also discuss the latest Left Behind movie, starring Nicolas Cage, before wrapping up with recommendations of the 1964 film Nothing But a Man and the documentaries Evolution of a Criminal and The Overnighters. It's all on this week's episode of the Voice Film Club podcast.

Get all our film coverage at villagevoice.com/movies and laweekly.com/movies

Reality Bites: 4th And Loud

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Tasteful as always, fellows.
There are a million reality shows on the naked television. We're going to watch them all, one at a time.

I've been asked by unrelated people on at least three unconnected occasions when I was planning on covering 4th and Loud for the continuing exercise in converting what remains of my gray matter into the delicious gruel I call "Reality Bites." I've never been able to give a good answer.

It's kind of weird, because due to poor time-management skills inherited from just about every one of my ancestors, I often find myself on a Monday or Tuesday without anything recorded to write about, necessitating a frantic perusal of free On Demand titles in the hopes of finding something I can sit through without falling asleep. So I really can't blame anything but conscious avoidance. In spite of months of pre-premiere promotion and continuing advertisements on AMC, it never crossed my mind to write about that show where Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley bought an arena football team.

This is also why I went through a run of truTV selections for a while. Because nobody but meth addicts and tow truck fetishists watches truTV voluntarily.


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Reality Bites: The Jennie Garth Project

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Not really getting a Ripley from "Aliens" vibe, here.
There are a million reality shows on the naked television. We're going to watch them all, one at a time.

Jennie Garth is an actor. She's best known for playing Kelly Taylor in the quintessential '90s TV show Beverly Hills, 90210, and again in 90210, the CW's not-at-all necrophiliac revival. She may be capable of greater range than this, but you wouldn't know if from The Jennie Garth Project, a new HGTV series about Garth's latest grasp for post-Kelly Taylor relevance by latching onto the recent TV remodeling craze.

Will she succeed with only her gumption and spunky personality? Will HGTV hit the "over" on referring to her as a "single mother of three?" Will Garth suffer a life-threatening injury after clumsily handling equipment best left to fully bonded professionals?

Whatever, I was always more of a Melrose Place guy anyway.


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