DAVID BIANCULLI

Founder / Editor

ERIC GOULD

Associate Editor

LINDA DONOVAN

Assistant Editor

Contributors

ALEX STRACHAN

MIKE HUGHES

GARY EDGERTON

ROGER CATLIN

KIM AKASS

GERALD JORDAN

TOM BRINKMOELLER

NOEL HOLSTON

 
 
2014
Jul
29
 
 
Richard Curtis wrote this charming 1999 romantic comedy, which benefits greatly not only from the subtlety and honesty of his dialogue, but from the charisma and chemistry of the two leads: Julia Roberts, playing a variation of her own international superstar persona, and Hugh Grant, playing a sometimes stammering bookstore owner who meets her, falls under her spell, and falls in love. Watch for Rhys Ifans, a supporting-role scene-stealer as the bookseller’s best buddy, Spike (pictured). Y
 
 
 
  
 
 
2014
Jul
29
 
 
Part 1 of 2. This two-part 2001 biography by Ken Burns and company is a Mark Twain Prize all by itself: a thoughtful examination that gives equal weight to the author and his writings, to the fiction and to the real life behind it. And, it turns out, Sam Clemens and his alter ego are perfect subjects for Burns, whose TV works, primarily, have all been about the examination of place and race. With Mark Twain, and especially with Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, you get plenty of both. Check local
 
 
 
  
 
 
2014
Jul
29
 
 
Maureen O’Hara Tuesdays continue tonight on TCM, and this evening’s lineup begins with one of her famous pairings with John Wayne: the 1950’s Western, Rio Grande, set just after the Civil War, and a beautifully photographed action film directed by John Ford.
 
 
 
  
 
 
2014
Jul
29
 
 
This latest video-retrospective history lesson from executive producer Michael Kirk and associates is another example of the enduring value of Frontline. All it does, in Losing Iraq, is go back to the start of the Iraq War, and trace the key moves, missteps, allegiances and battles since. What emerges is a chilling portrait that makes today’s international unrest, and the rise of the Sunnis, seem much more understandable – and puts a good percentage of the blame on various moves by t
 
 
 
  
 
 
2014
Jul
29
 
 
Each week, it seems, watching this series becomes an exercise in “compare and contrast”: Namely, to compare the scripted insurgency and violence and unrest on the screen, in this drama about a fictional Middle Eastern country, with what’s happening in real life, and shown on the news, the same week. So far, it’s been sufficiently tumultuous to shift this show’s on-location production base from Tel Aviv to Istanbul. In other words, Tyrant can’t shoot in Tel Avi
 
 
 
  
 
 
2014
Jul
28
 
 
TCM clears its previous film schedule today to present a dozen movies featuring the late James Garner. The tribute begins early, at 6 a.m. ET, with 1956’s Toward the Unknown, one of the Warner Bros. studio movies he made as a supporting player before breaking out as a star, for the studio’s newly formed TV division, in the classic Western Maverick. Shoot-Out at Medicine Bend, made in 1957, follows at 8 a.m. ET, and the first real Garner starring vehicle of the day begins at 9:30 a.m.
 
 
 
  
 
 
2014
Jul
28
 
 
The title of this week’s new HBO documentary has a double meaning. The parents of a South Korean baby named Sarang are accused of neglecting her – and charged with essentially starving her – while they immersed themselves in an online role-playing game. Sarang translates as “Love,” and this nonfiction study is an immersion into the world of avatars and “second lives,” and the addictions such a fantasy world can feed. The game the parents play is called P
 
 
 
  
 
 
2014
Jul
28
 
 
The TV series Disneyland began 60 years ago as a full-length unabashed infomercial for Walt Disney’s brand-new theme park, and the Disney folks haven’t lost any of that marketing savvy or cross-promotional boldness in the generations since. With this 2013 animated film becoming such a huge hit – not only at the worldwide box-office, but with its musical soundtrack sales as well – it was only a matter of time before sisters Elsa and Anna were embodied in three dimensions,
 
 
 
  
 
 
2014
Jul
28
 
 
This new POV begins with the earthquake that devastated parts of China in 2008 – specifically, with the completely crumbled town of Beichuan, which instantly earned the Fallen City name of this documentary’s title. What’s amazing is that, in just two years, a new Beichuan has risen in its place – and what’s surprising is how that affects some of the survivors. Check local listings.
 
 
 
  
 
 
2014
Jul
28
 
 
The season-long murder mystery that is TNT’s Murder in the First doesn’t conclude tonight (there are two more episodes left), but the murder trial supposedly does – and with the defendant insisting to take the stand. If you’ve stayed with this series all along, you know that’s a significant, and risky, change of legal strategy.