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Review – Boss (Season Two)
Rating 4 (out of 5). Kelsey Grammer continues in a second season of “Boss” after last year’s Golden Globe winning portrayal of corrupt Chicago mayor Tom Kayne. While some find “Boss” too harrowing and inaccessible, most appreciate the show’s depth, ambition and style. Returning viewers will find Kayne reaps perhaps even more than what he sowed in the first season, even as he battles a fatal, hallucination-inducing brain disease.
The Chicago Tribune summarizes Grammer’s work as “a spellbinding, brooding force that will surprise those who think of him only as Frasier.” Clearly absorbed by the show’s drama, the reviewer tosses out juicy tidbits from both seasons, mentioning that Kane’s “estranged daughter (Hannah Ware) was dating a gangbanger, maybe using drugs again” and Kitty O’Neil (Kathleen Robertson) assesses “herself, all of herself, in the mirror in the new season’s first episode.”
While finding it “smart, absorbing and particularly well done,” Newsday explains that “TV’s best series that no one’s watching” remains so because “’Boss’ wants to crush you under the sheer weight of Kane’s brutality. It wants to jab your brain with the mendacity of the Chicago machine…”
The Huffington Post finds the show unforgiveable with a “sour atmosphere.”
Despite political controversy surrounding the Emmys passing Kelsey Grammer over for a nomination, the New York Daily News proclaims this fact “more unfathomable than the Cubs’ inability to win a World Series for 104 years.” A “triumph” of the show, the Daily News states unequivocally that viewers will “care … about what kind of Chicago [Kane] will leave behind.”
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s reviewer revealed his complicated feelings toward “Boss”: “still hooked” despite the show having “lost” him last season when its “last vestige of a crusading good-guy agreed to look the other way on a Kane story…” Describing season 1 as “super-frustrating,” season 2 “pulls viewers back on board with intriguing plot twists, more light moments and strong performances.”
The Australian refers to it as “the best new drama around” – the “full-on Shakespearian study of power and mortality.”
The San Francisco Chronicle refers to the show as “a gift to discerning TV viewers.” Saying that while “the characters have only scant or fleeting redeeming personal values, we continue to buy into their machinations…” But it did criticize the illustration of Kane’s Lewy body dementia hallucinations as “gimmicky,” while still granting that they “work in part.”
HitFix seems to find the show too cerebral. The reviewer says despite “flashy incidents,” “all of it tends to wash over me without generating a response beyond, ‘Interesting.’” Even so, “Grammer is outstanding enough on his own to merit watching.”
USA Today’s headline reads “’Boss’ employs new stars, dirty tactics.”
The Philadelphia Inquirer describes “Boss” as “perhaps the first series since HBO’s groundbreaking The Wire to attempt an in vivo dissection of the complex political and economic workings of a modern city.”
The Daily Herald quotes Grammer as saying “I’ve heard from other mayors,” “saying that they basically can’t watch the show, because it’s just too true. It’s a little unnerving, isn’t it?”
Slant Magazine says “though the series has its share of larger-than-life moments that ring hollow, its knack for extracting quiet beauty from all the mayhem lends Boss’s best scenes the precision and artistry of a monstrous ballet.”
The Wall Street Journal concludes the show is “not flawless.” But grants that it is “buoyed by strong performances and a haunting score,” making “for deeply affecting television nevertheless.”
The Winnipeg Free Press finds the show “entertaining,” labeling Gammer’s work “some of the most compelling of his long and stellar … career.” The show is “a unique undertaking that has the epic ambitions of a Shakespearean tragedy and … bloody-knuckled nastiness…”
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Our daily TV show pick for tonight, Thursday, April 24, 2014 is the sixth season finale of "Parks and Recreation" on NBC at 8:00.
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New on VOD
Here are the new VOD films for the week of April 22, 2014. Click on a movie title for more information, trailers and reviews.
Bettie Page Reveals All. Rating: 4 (out of 5). The world’s greatest pinup model, Bettie Page, shares the true story of how free expression became the target of government witch-hunts and how she overcame them to help launch America’s sexual revolution. The film comes to VOD on Tuesday, April 22. While some of the reviews note that the film is lacking in production value, virtually all are impressed with the content of the film. As the Los Angeles Times notes, the film is a “highly watchable portrait.” Starring: Bettie Page, Dita Von Tease, Todd Oldham, Hugh Hefner. Director: Mark Mori. Rating: R. Genre: Documentary. Reviews, video and more.
Blue Ruin. Rating: 4 (out of 5). A beach bum finds his quiet life turned upside down by a very upsetting news, and travels back to his childhood home to seek revenge. Proving to be an ineffective assassin, he ends up in a brutal fight to protect his estranged family. The film premieres on VOD on Friday, April 25. The critics are very impressed with the film, the majority citing Saulnier’s direction as promising. As ScreenDaily says, “Blue Ruin is distinguished by the way it allies solid storytelling to fine craftsmanship.” Starring: Macon Blair, Devin Ratray, Amy Hargreaves, Kevin Kolack, Eve Plumb, David W. Thompson, Brent Werzner, Stacy Rock, Sidne Anderson. Director: Jeremy Saulnier. Rating: Unrated. Genre: Thriller. Reviews, video and more.
Escape From Tomorrow comes to DVD and Blu-ray on April 29. The film tells the story of a middle-aged American husband and father of two who lost his job. To escape from reality and to keep the news from his family, he decides not to forgo their trip to the happiest place on Earth. But things turn bad when his sanity is challenged and their trip is turned into a nightmare. Interesting if, for no other reason, than to see what a film that was surreptitiously shot at Disney World looks like. Best Buy has the Blu-ray (and DVD) or, if you prefer Amazon for the DVD, click here.
Filth. Rating: 3 (out of 5). Detective Sergeant Bruce Robertson is a corrupt cop who desperately wants a promotion. He will do absolutely anything to get that promotion, even stealing his colleagues’ wives and exposing their secrets. But when his past begins to catch up to him, he begins to lose control. Watch for Filth on VOD starting Thursday, April 24. The critics were mixed on the film but many were impressed with James McAvoy performance and, according to The Times, “James McAvoy gives his best performance to date as a morally and physically decaying detective in this hallucinogenic adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s novel.” Starring: James McAvoy, Jamie Bell, Imogen Poots, Jim Broadbent, Joanne Froggatt, Shirley Henderson, Eddie Marsan, John Sessions. Director: Jon S. Baird. Rating: R Genre: Drama, Comedy, Crime. Reviews, video and more.
Gambit. Rating: 2 (out of 5). A remake of the 1966 action film, Colin Firth and Cameron Diaz stars in this film about a British thief who discovers that no plan is infallible after he recruits a beautiful woman to help him steal a statue from a wealthy widower. Although his accomplice resembles the target’s late wife, things start to go wrong once their plans begin. The film premieres on VOD on Friday, April 25, and has not won much (if any) praise from the critics. According to The Guardian, “An awful lot of talent has been put to waste here.” Starring: Colin Firth, Cameron Diaz, Alan Rickman, Tom Courtenay, Stanley Tucci. Director: Michael Hoffmann. Rating: PG-13. Genre: Drama. Reviews, video and more.