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Sam Waterston

TV Review: HBO’s ‘The Newsroom’ Adjusts Its Broadcast Style

CHICAGO – There’s no television program that can be more simultaneously brilliant and frustrating as Aaron Sorkin’s “The Newsroom,” returning tonight, July 14, 2013, to start an already-tumultuous second season.

Blu-ray Review: HBO’s ‘The Newsroom’ Rivets, Frustrates at Same Time

The Newsroom

CHICAGO – Aaron Sorkin’s “The Newsroom,” recently released on Blu-ray and DVD, drives me crazy. The HBO drama can be so thematically dense and brings up subjects too often missing from the national conversation but it can also be so frustratingly self-important and deluded in its vision of the way real people operate. Do you give it credit for the topics it raises or smash it for the heavy hand with which they’re delivered? I have high hopes that season two will iron out some of the problems (stories of reshot episodes indicate that Sorkin heard his critics) but I’m still torn on how to feel about season one.

DVD Review: Audacious ‘Swimming to Cambodia’ Gets Long-Awaited Release

Swimming to Cambodia DVD

CHICAGO – Moviegoers allergic to copious amounts of talk will be hacking and wheezing minutes into “Swimming to Cambodia.” It’s a cinematically lensed 1987 recording of a show that consists entirely of actor/writer Spalding Gray sitting in a chair telling stories. He’s a vibrant presence and a brilliant wordsmith, but his mouth could literally talk one’s ear into a coma.

Interview: Executive Producer Rene Balcer on if ‘Law & Order’ Will Save the Day

Rene Balcer

CHICAGO – As the late, great Sophia Petrillo of “The Golden Girls” might have philosophized, “Picture it: September 13, 1990.” When “Law & Order” premiere, “The Internet” and “Email” were barely words, “mobile phones” looked like portable hair dryers, and Google, Yahoo, and AOL weren’t even gleams in Bill Gates’ eyeglasses — let alone Twitter, MySpace, Facebook, and YouTube. HBO and Showtime had yet to produce A-list hour dramas, and F/X, TNT, AMC, and USA had yet to produce anything more than the occasional TV-movie at all.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Bad Words

    Looming over “Bad Words” is the potential it could have had, as is, were it released ten years ago. With its focus of R-rated behavior poking at the projected innocence of children, along with the couple of chromosomes that keep Bateman’s Trilby from being a Vince Vaughn character, this movie is certainly a product of the comedies that have sculpted out the manchild story in the past decade.

  • Winter's Tale

    The theatrical poster for “Winter’s Tale,” after promising that “It’s not a true story, it’s a love story,” made a large demand from its viewers at the bottom: “This Valentine’s Day, Believe In Miracles.” While there is indeed a difference between filmmaking and marketing, it is hard to not imagine writer/director Akiva Goldsman whispering “believe in miracles” into the ear of every executive who helped “Winter’s Tale” come to life, immediately after throwing glitter on them.

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