Tag Archive: Richard E. Grant


Dispatches from Elsewhere Lindley Segel

Review by C.J. Bunce

For anyone still in withdrawals and languishing from the news that AMC’s Lodge 49 did not get renewed for a third season, a new show premiering this week may help fill the void.  It also hails from AMC, and carries over many of the same themes as that drama/comedy masked as fantasy about a group of people stuck in a similar place in their lives who find that spark of magic to get them back on track.  It’s writer/director/star Jason Segel’s Dispatches from Elsewherethe first two episodes are now available on AMC and at AMC’s website, with new episodes airing each Monday night at 9 p.m. Central.

Depending on your perspective, your tolerance of the unusual, and your openness to new things, like the four lead characters on the screen, you may think the series is about a game, a hoax, a conspiracy, or something very real.  Dispatches on Elsewhere is a ten-episode limited series that challenges its characters (and the viewers at home) to examine their own lives.  Our on-screen heroes each have their own personal issues–at the core is the average person dealing with the monotony of the daily grind, with the first four episodes spotlighting each member of an unusual assemblage.  Not so self-indulgent like dramas with a similar off-center sort of production design and story like Legion or [insert any Charlie Kaufman screenplay here], the show searches out the honesty of lost and lonely souls at work on the street corner or at home, all searching for more meaning from their lives.

nonchlance

Writer/director Jason Segel plays a near extension of his character in How I Met Your Mother named Peter, this time he’s single, living in an apartment in Philadelphia, disengaged from everything, and embarrassed of the boring nature of his data assembly job in the music industry.  But he brings to the table a vivid imagination, working out in his head (and brought to the TV screen for viewers) those things he ponders, beginning with his reactions to a string of flyers taped to street posts.  On a whim he pursues one of the brochures, calling a number he tears from the bottom.  This leads him to the beginning of his journey with this strange Jejune Institute–the exact place for someone who doesn’t think he’s special.  He meets a transgendered woman named Simone, played by Eve Lindley, whose endearing enthusiasm is simply stellar, especially in the Simone-focused second episode (consider this series her breakout role).  Her imagination finds her carrying out a conversation with a painting of a woman in a museum.  She becomes his partner, and the team expands to include a kindly older lady played by Oscar-winning actress Sally Field, and an uptight genius played by André Benjamin.

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You’ve all been selected as Agents of Nonchalance.

With its critically acclaimed series Lodge 49, which starred Wyatt Russell, Brent Jennings, and Sonya Cassidy, apparently canceled after only two series, the cable network AMC looked to fill the quirky drama niche it left behind.  It found Jason Segel′s quirky dramedy Dispatches from Elsewhere, releasing its first trailer this week.  This is labeled an anthology series, which typically means individual stories in each episode and different characters, yet it lists its five leads in all ten episodes.  So what’s going on here?  It’s an anthology to the extent that the series gets renewed–meaning you’ll likely only see the billed cast of characters in the first season, with a new story and characters in subsequent seasons.  It’s billed as “a transcendental series about a group of ordinary people who stumble onto a puzzle hiding just behind the veil of everyday life.”  That describes Lodge 49 perfectly, too, right?

Dispatches from Elsewhere has similar bits going for it compared to AMC’s departed Lodge 49.  It looks like it was filmed on the same paneled set and it, too, features a directionless guy lost in his own world, detached from a meaningful existence, with How I Met Your Mother and The Muppets co-star Segel in that role (along with serving as show creator, director, and producer).  And like Lodge 49, with its street cred of actors like Paul Giamatti, Bruce Campbell, Cheech Marin, Bronson Pinchot, and Brian Doyle-Murray, Dispatches from Elsewhere has its own style of actor cred, co-starring Academy Award winner Sally Field, Academy Award nominee (Doctor Who star, new Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker villain) Richard E. Grant, and Grammy-winning musician André BenjaminMr. Robot’s Eve Lindley rounds out the main cast.

It looks strange in the vein of Lodge 49, Mr. Robot, Russian Doll, or Legion.  But is it the good kind of strange?  See what you think.  Here’s the first trailer for Dispatches from Elsewhere:

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Beware the light.

Review by C.J. Bunce

On first viewing of Logan, this year’s most critically acclaimed superhero film, a viewer may love it or leave it.  It’s not your typical Marvel Comics adaptation, full of f-bombs and the bloodiest of action and violence.  Yet it’s also a finely crafted final chapter to the successful X-Men film saga and a tribute to Hugh Jackman’s unprecedented nine-film run as Logan.  Last week 20th Century Fox showed a limited screening arranged by the director of Logan in black and white, called Logan: Noir.  The version is also included on the Blu-ray release available everywhere tomorrow.  If you haven’t seen Logan, skip the theatrical version and go straight to Logan: Noir and if you have seen Logan prepare for a completely different experience with this special edition of the film.

Logan: Noir would be more aptly titled Logan: Black and White, as this is not so much classic noir than a modern Western tale shown in black and white.  Thankfully writer/director James Mangold (Cop Land, 3:10 to Yuma, The Wolverine) carefully and elegantly filmed Logan with an eye for the stark contrasts that black and white film once regularly captured so well.  Parts of the film will reach into your chest and hold you breathless, revealing the full potential of a comic book based film–and more specifically a superhero film.

Its bleak, cold landscapes are evocative of a John Ford (Stagecoach, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, The Grapes of Wrath) Western.  Its slow, calculated scenic pans are something Stanley Kubrick (Lolita, Dr. Strangelove) could only have hoped to have achieved in his early work.  Inasmuch as Hugh Jackman is a classic, Western, antihero archetype in his so-far-gone, washed-up, tired and grizzled Logan–former Wolverine of the X-Men–he appears far lonelier and resigned to a dismal, unrelenting future in black and white.  The cold contrasts in this Logan somehow create a vision more true to the Old Man Logan of the comic book source material.

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Matt Smith as 11th Doctor

BBC announced yesterday that Matt Smith’s last episode as the 11th Doctor on Doctor Who, the oldest series on television, will be this year’s Christmas episode to air on Christmas Eve.  He’ll also appear in the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who episode this fall.  For those of us who never would have given Doctor Who a try but for Matt Smith, he will be sorely missed.  Without Matt Smith’s energetic and brilliant performances, we wouldn’t have seen how awesome David Tennant was as the 10th Doctor, met Christopher Eccleston’s 9th Doctor and his long-running companion Rose, or checked out the numerous audio books, or even peeked at those earlier “other” Doctors.

But just as we quickly have embraced his new companion with Jenna-Louise Coleman’s Clara (Amy Pond who?) after we thought we’d met the best companion ever, life goes on and so will the Doctor’s next incarnation as he takes the form of another actor… or actress?

So who should be the next Doctor?  Matt Smith has given us some brilliant performances.  If you aren’t a Doctor Who fan and wanted to sample some of the best of Matt Smith’s Doctor, try these:

The Eleventh Hour

The Eleventh Hour.  We meet Matt Smith’s Doctor for the first time as he must save the world in 20 minutes with a wrecked TARDIS and broken sonic screwdriver and with the help of Amy Pond–the girl who waited.

The Beast Below

The Beast Below.  The Doctor and Amy travel to a future where residents live on a spaceship called Starship UK.  We meet a future Queen and learn the terrible truth about what keeps the ship–and all its inhabitants–alive.

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Downton Abbey

For you genre TV and film fans that got sucked into the BBC/PBS series Downton Abbey, now that the series is on hiatus are you ready to entirely re-immerse yourself back into sci-fi and fantasy?  Or do you still need a bit of the British manor fix now and then?  A great feature of British manor series and movies is the overlap of actors back and forth into the best of sci-fi and fantasy.  So if 12 inches of snowfall has stranded you inside and you want to further investigate your favorite performers on Netflix or other streaming media as they stretch their acting chops, here’s an excuse to dive into some films and TV series you may not have otherwise tried, featuring the best of the world of sci-fi and fantasy.

Remains of the Day Dyrham Hall

Christopher Reeve plays an American who buys this estate in Remains of the Day.

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Dr Who Xmas Special poster

Premiering tomorrow night on BBC America is the annual Christmas Special and this year’s show is also the first episode of the new season of Doctor Who with new Jenna-Louise Coleman playing Clara Oswin, the new companion to Matt Smith’s eleventh Doctor.  (Actress Jenna-Louise Coleman played the character earlier this year in the episode “Asylum of the Daleks,” but was not yet his companion).  As has been a tradition in Britain for years, BBC America is presenting the Doctor Who Christmas Special to U.S. fans again this year, airing Tuesday at 8 p.m. Central/9 p.m. Eastern, subtitled “The Snowmen.”

Dr Who special 1

BBC America released two previews for the Special, the first a longer preview “prequel/minisode” introduced by Smith and Coleman, and a second more standard teaser revealing guest star Richard E. Grant (The Scarlet Pimpernel, Bob Cratchitt in Patrick Stewart’s A Christmas Carol, and voiced the Doctor in Scream of the Shalka), and the familiar voice of The Hobbit’s Gandalf and X-Men’s Professor X, Ian McKellen.  Liz White, who played Annie in one of our all-time favorite series, Life on Mars, will also be in this year’s Christmas Special.

Here is the longer prequel you won’t see with the episode on BBC America:

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