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Selfridge biplane 2015

British TV series that travel to U.S. audiences via PBS’s Masterpiece series usually take a year to get across the pond.  And it’s not just an England Proper thing.  The same is true of Canadian series that air in the U.S. an entire year after the original broadcast at home, like Syfy’s Lost Girl.  Before the popularity of Downton Abbey, most PBS viewers didn’t take much note of this.  Now fans of Mr. Selfridge, which returns tonight for Season 3 (“Series 3″ in British parlance) have to face the same problem.  That problem is spoilers.

Fans of Mr. Selfridge will be thrown several sidewinders for Season 3, and dodging these new twists and turns before they air each Sunday night will be difficult, especially since entire story plots are scattered across the Web, and Episode 10 will air in England tonight the same time Episode 1 airs in the States.  Can’t wait to find out what happens next?  It’s right there waiting for you to read.  So what’s your best bet?  Pick up Season 3 on DVD or Blu-ray, available at Amazon.com now here, or stream it here, and start your binge watching before you learn too much, too early.

Mr Selfridge Season 3 store cast

If you’re interested in why Mr. Selfridge has the most realistic historical costumes of any series on TV, series costumer designer James Keast reveals one of his secrets in an interview done for the show:  Many of the costumes are vintage–actual garments worn more than 100 years ago and found in the department store archives.  Check out that video after the break, as well as some insights and a preview on what is certain to be a tumultuous Season 3:

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Craig as James Bond SPECTRE

In the past few decades of the 50 year tenure of James Bond on film it’s really hard to beat Daniel Craig’s first turn as James Bond in 2006’s Casino Royale.  As action goes it’s practically a perfect film, particularly considering that it’s a bit of an origin story–an overdone trope in genre movies.  But despite continuing with an actor who was truly believable as Bond, its 2008 sequel, Quantum of Solace, only muddled along with uninteresting villains, and the 2012 follow-up Skyfall, although interesting, delivered the message that this Bond may be too old to be Bond.

So it’s a relief that James Bond is going back to the basics in SPECTRE–the 24th film in the ongoing series–as hinted in its first trailer released this weekend.  Sure, the support team is still here, like Naomie Harris’s Miss Moneypenny, but this Bond is clearly on a new solo mission, and it’s not just a tangential adventure.  Tying back to the destruction of the late M’s MI6 office building, Bond is off again to seek some revenge.

Bond brother in SPECTRE Christoph Waltz

Better yet, perhaps we will now learn more about the mysterious Mr. White, played by Jesper Christensen, who has appeared in the first two Daniel Craig Bond movies, but each time as a shadowy figure whose motives and secrets remain hidden.  After being caught by Bond at the end of Casino Royale, he managed to escape in Quantum of Solace.  We were led to believe he worked for an organization called Quantum, but does he really work for SPECTRE?

Mr White SPECTRE

After the break check out the first trailer for SPECTRE:

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Arnold zombie Breslin Maggie

Arnold Schwarzenegger is starring in a new zombie movie, and it’s not a comedy?

Michael Fassbender is starring in a Western?

It can only be Trailer Park: The “What the ?” Edition.  Check out two new trailers below, after the break.

It’s always fun to be blind-sided by unexpected previews.  Today’s two movies weren’t in late 2014’s trade papers, or they might have made our All the Movies You’ll Want to See in 2015 list.

What’s it with all the cool, new zombie material being previewed this month?  Since 28 Days Later I hadn’t gotten the bite yet for the genre, and suddenly zombie TV series iZombie, The Returned, and Les Revenants are knocking everything out of the DVR priority list?  Did we time-skip into a parallel dimension?

Arnold’s new movie, Maggie, is completely surprising.  The first trailer out of the gates looks great.  Oscar nominee Abigail Breslin plays his zombie-infected daughter in her last weeks before completely going zombie.  Arnold’s tired and troubled father looks like Clint Eastwood in Unforgiven.  If the dark and measured pace of the trailer reflects the final cut of the film, this may be a horror thriller to check out.

Fassbender Slow West

Then there’s this quirky new Western, Slow West.  The film has generated some decent buzz already.  A Western filmed in New Zealand absolutely looks a bit off.  But the steely-eyed Fassbender as a John Wayne in The Searchers / Han Solo type?  That may deserve a casting award.

Slow West follows a boy on a quest across the sea to America to track down his lost love.  John Maclean directs a relatively unknown cast, Fassbender aside.  The trailer carries a bit of British-influenced flare, and the vibe of Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman’s epic immigrant picture Far and Away. 

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Stewart camera Rear Window

Review by C.J. Bunce

One of the first classic movies restored using a state of the art Technicolor dye-transfer process, the restoration of Alfred Hitchcock’s most stylish and suspenseful film, Rear Window, provided 1990s audiences a presentation of the film better than it was originally seen upon its initial release in 1954.  That version was back on the big screen this week, thanks to Turner Classic Movies and the Fathom Events series.  Inspired by a Cornell Woolrich short story about voyeurism and murder, Hitch’s classic piece of cinema still holds up, keeping a 2015 audience completely engaged with his unique use of humor juxtaposed with some pretty grisly circumstances.

Anchored by top performances from Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly, and just as superb supporting performances by Thelma Ritter and Wendell Corey, Rear Window is as atmospheric as any film of its decade.  Hitchcock filmed primarily in the muted brown tones of a sweltering urban summer, but he used targeted deep reds to highlight key imagery: the mercury of a wall thermometer, a bright and significant bed of flowers, a perfect lobster dinner, crisp uneaten bacon, and a certain fashionable socialite’s lipstick in her opening scene.  And yet, unlike Hitchcock’s The Birds or Psycho, the red of blood–and any gore at all–is kept off-stage.  He didn’t need it.  The suspense builds for two hours and even after 60 years, the payoff–and especially what we can’t see–is still able to transfix audiences with nail-biting action.

Stewart Kelly Rear Window scene

Highly memorable is the music–a soaring clarinet rises up above Franz Waxman’s jazz score from the film’s first scene, reflecting the liveliness of the block, the active and important parts of all the lives visible from the rear window of Stewart’s L.B. “Jeff” Jeffries, a war photographer laid up with a broken leg.  Waxman’s stylish music propels the story forward despite Jeff’s claustrophobic, trapped circumstance.  Love themes, like Bing Crosby’s “To See You is to Love You” and “Many Dreams Ago” reflect the seemingly hopeless plight of Miss Lonelyhearts–a single woman longing to find love who is attacked and then plans to commit suicide.  Waxman’s own song “Lisa” takes on its own life, composed over the course of the film by a piano player across the courtyard, to get noticed by Miss Lonelyhearts, and be picked up as the love theme for Jeff and Grace Kelly’s character, Jeff’s girlfriend Lisa Fremont.  And to relieve the tension at story’s end, a rousing accordion plays “That’s Amore” to the curtain.

Rear Window Stewart Corey

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Lando in Star Wars Rebels

We initially had some trepidation when it came to the new Disney animated TV series, Star Wars Rebels, set five years before the original Star Wars movie (A New Hope) and 14 years after Episode III.  We reviewed the first movie length pilot episode here, now available on DVD at Amazon.com here.  Focus on the younger character Ezra and the more cartoony silliness initially pointed to kids as the target audience for the show.  But as the series gained its stride, it became not only a good tie-in for diehard Star Wars fans, but something real, honest to goodness, Star Wars canon fans can be excited about, with its inclusion of original trilogy cast members as voice actors.  And its primary and supporting cast work will have you wanting to watch it again and eagerly anticipate Season Two when it returns to Disney XD at your next binge session.

The high point surprised us: The return of Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian in an adventure before The Empire Strikes Back.  If you hate the fact that his primary role in the original trilogy was as a betrayer of Han Solo, you can finally see why Han previously was friends with him.  Sure, he was an opportunist even back then, but he was also skillful and suave, and, believe it or not, much cooler than he was portrayed in the movies.  That’s something worth seeing.

Star Wars Rebels C-3PO

But it didn’t stop with Billy Dee Williams.  The first episode, “Droids in Distress,” featured the return of Anthony Daniels as the voice of C-3P0.  In the ninth episode the great and powerful Frank Oz returned to voice the part of Yoda, in “Path of the Jedi.”  And how about James Earl Jones as Darth Vader again?  You can’t really get more canon than that.  Well, at least until we see Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Peter Mayhew, Anthony Daniels, and Kenny Baker (and not only just hear them) return in Episode VII later his year.

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Wayward Pines

“We gotta get out of this place, if it’s the last thing we ever do.” —The Animals

Claustrophobic?  Then maybe the new Fox series Wayward Pines is not for you.  But the previews for the new series make us think you might be miss out on something good.

Wrong place, wrong time.  We’ve all encountered circumstances we wish we could reverse, but most of us haven’t stumbled into an entire town we wished we could escape from, but couldn’t.  In comedy we’ve seen this on television with shows like Northern Exposure and Green Acres.  In classic cinema we’ve seen it with George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life.  But that’s not the kind of town we’ll be visiting soon in Wayward Pines.  The obvious comparison is to that quirky Pacific Northwest town of Twin Peaks–like that cult favorite series, the protagonist is an FBI agent following up on a case in a forested town.  The characters in Wayward Pines don’t appear to be as odd as the Log Lady, but we’ll learn this town is much, much darker.  In fact it might have more in common with the Midwest town in Children of the Corn, the British village in Wicker Man, or Stephen King’s seaside town of Haven.

Wayward Pines Matt Dillon

Somehow the townspeople of Wayward Pines are trapped.  Like a plot pulled from an episode of sci-fi television–think The Twilight Zone’s “Nick of Time” (1960) with William Shatner, The X-Files’s episode “Arcadia” (1999), or the reboot The Twilight Zone episode “Evergreen” (2002) with Amber Tamblyn.  In movies no director knows “trapped” like M. Night Shyamalan, as seen in his moody Signs (2002), The Village (2004), and The Happening (2008).  So it’s no wonder his next director/executive producer project is Wayward Pines. 

After the break, check out the trailer for Wayward Pines:

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Cruise Mission Impossible 5 Rogue Nation b

How does he do it?  How does Tom Cruise keep churning out exciting movies, over and over again?  We can count 27 of his movies that we’d watch all over again, out of a total body of work of 37 movies.  Taps, The Outsiders, Top Gun, Rain Man, Far and Away, A Few Good Men, The Firm, Jerry Maguire, Minority Report, The Last Samurai, Collateral, War of the Worlds, Valkyrie, Jack Reacher, Oblivion, Edge of Tomorrow–any actor would love to have just a few of these in their portfolio, and Cruise was the lead in all but two.  (We hid several Tom Cruise movies in a review of Jack Reacher a year ago here at borg.com–can you find them all?).  Then you have Cruise’s own version of James Bond–only there he is Ethan Hunt and the series is Mission:  Impossible.

The fifth entry in the Mission:  Impossible franchise is coming your way soon.  Each of its predecessors had something new to offer, although none better than Brian De Palma’s 1996 original, derived from the classic TV series.  Mission:  Impossible co-starred Jon Voight, Ving Rhames–a staple for the entirety of the series, and Kristin Scott Thomas.  Every action director wants to try his hand at making a Mission:  Impossible movie.  Director John Woo helmed Mission: Impossible II in 2000, co-starring Brendon Gleeson and Dougray Scott.  In 2006, J.J. Abrams and writing duo Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci gave it a try with Mission:  Impossible III.  This best of the sequels so far co-starred Philip Seymour Hoffman and Michelle Monaghan, Billy Crudup, Lawrence Fishburne, and brought comedic actor Simon Pegg into the mix.  Then in 2011 Mission:  Impossible–Ghost Protocol, directed by Brad Bird of The Incredibles fame, added Jeremy Renner to the team.

Mission Impossible 5 V Rogue Nation poster

After the break, check out the new preview released this weekend for Mission:  Impossible–Rogue Nation:

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The Returned A&E India Ennenga

Review by C.J. Bunce

Fans of Twin Peaks, American remakes of European series, fans of Tim Seeley and Mike Norton’s Revival, the short-lived Under the Dome, Malcolm McDowell and David Warner’s Time After Time, and anyone after the next great, creepy mystery series take note: A&E’s The Returned has so much going for it you’ll want to watch it twice.  What would you do if someone close to you that died prematurely suddenly walked back into your life, alive and well, just as you remembered them?  Would you scream, cheer, cry, laugh, be afraid?  You’ll ask that question over and over as you watch the residents of a small Pacific Northwest town as they react to the formerly dead as they re-enter their lives.  It’s compelling stuff.

The Returned is an American remake of the French series Les Revenants (French for The Returned and the double meaning of a ghost returning from the dead), which itself is entering its second season on the Sundance Channel (with English subtitles) and was based on a 2004 French film of the same name.  Fans of any one of the many well-known character actors will have an easy excuse to give the American show a try.  The Returned features a top-notch cast, including Michelle Forbes (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Battlestar Galactica, Orphan Black, Homicide), Jeremy Sisto (Law & Order, Clueless, The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits), Carl Lumbly (Chuck, Battlestar Galactica, The X-Files), Mark Pellegrino (The Closer, Chuck, Castle, The X-Files, Lost, Supernatural), Aaron Douglas (Battlestar Galactica, iZombie), and Kevin Alejandro, who we most recently saw as Sebastian Blood on CW’s Arrow.  But the best on the series may be the perpetually young-looking Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Final Destination 3, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Sky High, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, The Thing, Live Free or Die Hard, Tru Calling) as the troubled former fiancée of one of the Returned, newcomer India Ennenga as Camille, the most interesting of the Returned, Tandi Wright (Jack the Giant Slayer) as her mother, and Sophie Lowe as her “older” twin sister.  But we’ve seen many a series with great actors but backed by a less than desired story.  Not so here.

Winstead in The Returned

Comparing the original to the remake can be a bit of a fun game to play in itself.  When the American actress mother encounters her dead daughter for the first time, she inspires a humorous viewer reaction, but with the French actress, the response is full of fear and shock.  Both series are billed as supernatural dramas, but Les Revenants’ photography and music appear as more on the horror end of the spectrum.  On paper these are zombie series, but from the first two episodes they seem far from other entries in that genre.  You’ll get the Twin Peaks vibe instantly, but without David Lynch’s trademark quirkiness.  The return of a serial killer from the past may have you recalling Jack the Ripper’s return in Time After Time, or the recent BBC America series Intruders.  But you won’t find any ghoulish shambling goons here.

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rear window fathom

It’s Alfred Hitchcock’s most suspenseful film, his most engaging and atmospheric, and it features top lead actors with stars Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly.  It’s his 1954 blockbuster Rear Window, and if you haven’t seen it on the big screen then you haven’t seen it at all.

Tomorrow, March 22, 2015, and Wednesday, March 25, 2015, as part of the Fathom Event series, theaters across the country will screen the restored cut of the film.  Presented by Turner Classic Movies (TCM) and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, the film will be introduced by TCM host Ben Mankiewicz.

It’s a steamy, sultry summer, and L.B. Jeffries (Jimmy Stewart) is a war photographer bedridden from an injury to his leg.  He’s being taken care of by nurse Stella, played by Thelma Ritter, and is constantly being prodded for his affections by the beautiful fashion model Lisa Fremont, played by Grace Kelly.  Jeffries’ apartment overlooks a courtyard and the back sides of other apartments, and as Jeffries gets more and more bored he begins following the goings-on out his rear window.  Newlyweds, a musician, an unhappy couple, an older couple, a dancer, a lonely woman.

Grace Kelly Jimmy Stewart

Is the heat getting to Jeffries, or could one of these tenants have committed a murder across the way?

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Francavilla Archie vs Predator 1 cover   Eric Powell cover 1 Archie vs Predator

If you haven’t checked in with the 73-year-old perpetual teenager Archie Andrews in a while, well, you need to get caught up.  If you don’t remember reading his comics as a kid, just think Happy Days for a minute.  Archie is Richie Cunningham, the do-gooder who is popular with his friends.  The suave Reggie Mantle is a ringer for Potsy Webber, and Ralph Malph is basically Jughead Jones.  You could drop these guys in any school cafeteria in any decade since Archie was created back in 1941 and the words may be different but the conversations would be familiar.  It’s each writer after writer over the years maintaining that accessibility to readers that keeps Archie fresh.  With crossover deals with rights holders and publishers today, that means Archie gets to meet other property icons.  Like the rock group KISS in Archie meets KISS, the Punisher in Archie Meets Punisher, or the kids from the TV show Glee in Archie Meets Glee.  Next week, Archie goes sci-fi.  Instead of a “meet” with the skull collecting alien from the Predator franchise, Dark Horse Comics and Archie Comics are releasing a four-issue series, Archie vs. Predator.

Taking Archie comics first into dark territory, and back into the hands of thousands of new readers, was the 2013 series Afterlife with Archie, a zombie story by Archie Comics’ now Chief Creative officer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and art by Francesco Francavilla (which we’ve raved about before plenty here at borg.com).  But where Afterlife with Archie re-dresses the setting of Riverdale in a bleak zombie apocalypse, artist Fernando Ruiz has drawn Archie vs. Predator firmly in the more cartoony, more familiar Riverdale.  And it’s that contrast between the classic cartoony and the shocking, and the outright bloody, where writer Alex de Campi takes Archie and friends into a completely new realm.  Like the meet-ups at Big Al’s with the Happy Days kids, de Campi presents some current and believable banter between Archie, Jughead, Betty, Veronica, Reggie, and two new rich kids as they head South of the border for Spring Break.  And don’t be surprised if the quirks and angst of the Riverdale kid remind you of the characters on the classic animated series Daria, but with a Scooby Doo and Buffy the Vampire Slayer twist.

Archie vs Predator banner

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