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Review: Season 2 'Boardwalk Empire'
On occasion, especially when it spends time on disfigured World War 1 veteran Richard Harrow (Jack Huston) and gangster Chalky White (Michael K. Williams), 'Boardwalk Empire' perks up and becomes truly compelling for a scene or two, but those moments don't come as regularly as they should. And soon enough, as the show methodically depicts rival groups attempting to control the flow of illegal liquor in and around Atlantic City, the show subsides into its preferred pace -- the metronomic rhythm of items being checked off a grocery list.
The show's lack of passionate engagement with its characters is deeply frustrating, given that Kelly Macdonald has a steely spark as the redoubtable Margaret Schroeder, Nucky's girlfriend, Michael Stuhlbarg is effortlessly charismatic as gangster Arnold Rothstein and Stephen Graham is endlessly watchable as Al Capone -- the list goes on and on. The truth is, for all its Quality Drama trappings, there's a superficial quality to 'Boardwalk Empire' -- character moments are rarely unexpected, illuminating or moving. The show gives us a light gloss on who each character is and what they want, and things tend to remain at that glancing level for long periods of time, and the story line of Michael Shannon's federal agent, Nelson Van Alden, is truly glacial this season. He doesn't even get to be entertainingly weird.
Some will love the deliberateness of 'Boardwalk Empire,' and the painstaking work that has gone into a story structure that, this season, depicts young Jimmy Darmody's attempts to wrest power from his mentor, Nucky. But the show doesn't do nearly enough to make viewers invest in Nucky's cause, or Jimmy's. I'm not one of those who doubts Buscemi's leading man possibilities, but Nucky's never really the center of this elaborate machine. I'm not sure it even has a center.
Review: 'Boardwalk Empire' Season 2 - Nucky
Nucky, whose two main modes are tired and annoyed, is just another character in a vast sea of them. We don't get to know many people in this world well, but maybe it's a supposed to be a consolation that there are so many of them.
And though Michael Pitt has had his moments as Jimmy, he's mostly a gloomy enigma this season. The relationship between Jimmy and his wife, Angela (Aleksa Palladino), is a perfect example what 'Boardwalk Empire' gets wrong. There's supposed to be pathos in the way these damaged people try and fail to connect, but we see so little of the pair that it's hard to care about their relationship.
To make a novel "worthy of attention, the canvas should be crowded with real portraits, not of individuals known to the world or to the author, but of created personages impregnated with traits of character which are known," Anthony Trollope wrote in his 'Autobiography.' "To my thinking, the plot is but the vehicle for all this; and when you have the vehicle without the passengers, a story of mystery in which the agents never spring to life, you have but a wooden show."
I'm not arguing that 'Boardwalk Empire' never springs to life, but it does so only fitfully, and that "wooden show" line is too often an apt description of Nucky's richly appointed surroundings. 'Boardwalk Empire' looks like a million bucks (more like tens of millions, if HBO's lavish budgets are anything to go by), but it never approaches the liveliness of 'Downtown Abbey,' which is set about a decade earlier, or the tautness of 'Breaking Bad,' which manages to inject addictive suspense into a story about the trade in illicit substances. 'Boardwalk Empire' appears to be most interested in creating a map of Nucky's world, and when tries to make a thematic point, it frequently does so with large servings of overkill (if a particular sentiment is being expressed in a scene, there's a good chance a song on the soundtrack, a book held by a character or a glimpse of a film clip will reinforce that sentiment with all the subtlety of an anvil to the head).
It brings me no joy to bail out on 'Boardwalk Empire.' I thought the start of its first season was stylish and promising, but for me to stay interested in a group of people, I need to feel that the show itself is deeply intrigued by them. The problem is, long stretches of 'Boardwalk Empire' feel like a PowerPoint presentation come to life. The information is there, the aesthetic approach is "correct," but too frequently, I remained unmoved and uninvolved.
Review: 'Boardwalk Empire' Season 2 - Where is the
Watching the show's second season, I kept thinking back to Nancy Franklin's cogent review of the first season in the New Yorker. "Even if its point is to show you the ugly side of fun, 'Boardwalk Empire' should be much more fun to watch," Franklin wrote.
That's so true. Aren't gangster movies usually kind of thrilling (or trying to be)? And in the show's pilot, executive producer Martin Scorcese gave the show a visual pop that made it seem like Nucky was really going places. But these days, he's still in that suite in the Ritz, making deals, looking wan and tired of the high life. It may be the Roaring '20s, but he gets no kick from Champagne.
And it doesn't just have to be about fun: I wouldn't mind being moved to tears, being shocked, being surprised, even being ticked off by 'Boardwalk Empire.' Another HBO drama, 'Game of Thrones,' was clunky when it was first putting the pieces of its story in motion. But by focusing on a manageable number of people in that world and delving deep into their emotional and political quandaries, it managed to create an exciting moral and visual feast. I was gripped, even though I knew where that story is going.
I don't know exactly where 'Boardwalk Empire' is going, but I'm fairly sure the journey will be... organized.
Rumor: Croatia to be season two filming location
We already know that Croatia was one of several countries visited by the production team while location scouting for season two of Game of Thrones. Now we are hearing rumors that they may have settled on it as one of the new locations for season two filming. Our source says it is nearly a done deal, with only a few minor details to be worked out. The source also said the coastal city of Dubrovnik will be where the bulk of the filming will take place.
When asked about the possibility of filming in Croatia during yesterday’s book signing in Slovenia, George R. R. Martin, while not confirming anything, did say he “loves” Dubrovnik and that Split “has great potential.” It is important to note that the questioner did not specifically mention either of those cities, so the fact that Martin immediately spoke of Dubrovnik seems to lend credence to the rumor we are hearing. Split is also a coastal city, so I think it is clear they are considering Croatia for its coastline.
Winter Is Coming: That sea wall screams Storm’s End to me. Although the city itself looks more like Qarth. We should get an official announcement soon, considering filming starts one month from tomorrow.
Natalie Dormer to play Margaery Tyrell
Casting news YES!! James Hibberd of Entertainment Weekly reports that Natalie Dormer will play Margaery Tyrell, the sister of Loras Tyrell. Natalie Dormer is an English actress best known for her work as Anne Boleyn in Showtime’s The Tudors.
Natalie Dormer, who memorably played the seductive and doomed Anne Boleyn on Showtime’s The Tudors, has been added to the fantasy drama’s regular cast.
Dormer will play Margaery Tyrell, a (minor spoiler alert) beautiful and shrewd young women from the influential House Tyrell.
Winter Is Coming: Wow. A great addition. I loved her in The Tudors. If this is the kind of name they can get for a relatively small role (this season at least), I’m really psyched to see who they get for Stannis and Melisandre. Welcome to the cast Natalie!
Eccleston to join Thrones? Doubtful.
There are rumors and then there are rumors. Last week Den of Geek mentioned in an article about the Natalie Dormer casting that there were “unconfirmed rumours” that Christopher Eccleston was going to be joining the cast of Game of Thrones. We didn’t report on it then because the rumor was (and still is) very unsubstantiated. Since then though the rumor has taken on a life of its own and been picked up by major sites such as Blastr, AOL TV and Zap2It. So we felt we should address it.
As far as I can tell, this rumor seems to be based on nothing more than Internet speculation. I have searched for reports of Eccleston actually being linked to the show and haven’t found any. All I can find are instances of fan casting; people saying he would be good for the role of Stannis Baratheon. I believe Den of Geek misinterpreted all this chatter as rumors that he was actually going to be cast. If they had had an actual source for the rumor, surely that would have merited more than just a throwaway line at the end of an article mostly about the Dormer casting? Another strike against the Eccleston rumor being true: It was recently announced that he has been cast in a BBC adaptation of The Borrowers which begins filming this week. This might not be as bad a conflict as I originally thought. Westeros.org notes that filming for this will only last 5 weeks, which means it will end right around when Thrones filming begins. That doesn’t change the veracity of this rumor but does provide a glimmer of hope for the Eccleston for Stannis crowd.
As for the Tony Curran rumor, which is also mentioned in the Den of Geek article, that one does have a source, but it is an old rumor. We first reported on it almost two months ago. Curran reportedly mentioned at a con in Belfast that he was in talks to join the cast of Thrones. I imagine that even if the report was true at the time, that those talks must have broken down and we shouldn’t expect a Curran casting announcement.
Winter Is Coming: I could be wrong about all of this of course. We could get a casting announcement today for Eccleston as Stannis and Curran as Davos. I would be thrilled were that to happen. But after a couple years of closely monitoring these casting games, I think that I have developed a pretty good feel for which rumors ring true and which are nothing more than fan chatter. And unfortunately, the Eccleston rumor seems like the latter.
Meet the cast and tour the locations at TitanCon
We first wrote about TitanCon, which is to take place in Belfast on September 24, earlier in March – on the very day the release date for A Dance with Dragons was announced, in fact. In case you missed it because of that: TitanCon is a SF&F literary, media, and gaming convention, an important part of which are all things Game of Thronesian, and which in many ways represents an evolution from the previous GoTBelfast moots. You will be able to meet a slew of Irish and international authors, artists, and film-makers there, and participate in many diverse events and activities, as is customary at a con.
For Game of Thronesfans, there are at least two big points of note. First, you will be able to meet members of the cast at the event. Miltos Yerolemou (Syrio) and Kristian Nairn (Hodor) have already confirmed their attendance as guests, and there are others who are more than willing to join, but we need to wait for their shooting schedules first. Several GoTdiscussion panels will be organised. Second, on the Sunday after the convention proper, the TitanCon guys and gals have organised a full-day activity no fan of the show would want to miss. Read all about it in the announcement below and follow the links. Hear Me Roar will be there!
Game of Thrones Coach Tour
Sunday 25 September 2011 ~ Tickets £28
Our special Sunday event is a coach tour visiting various locations used in the filming of Game of Thrones season one including Tollymore Forest, Inch Abbey, Audleys Castle and Castle Ward (Winterfell courtyard) where we will be hosting a medieval feast, archery workshop by the SCA and a LARP event run by LARPNI.
The tour begins at 10.15 am departing from the Europa Hotel in Belfast. We won’t be back till 9 pm so make sure you can stick around all day because you really don’t want to miss this!
A Dance with Dragons has released
After 2,075 days of waiting (longer if you live in the UK), we finally have a new A Song of Ice and Fire book to read. A Dance with Dragons
has officially released in stores across the globe today.
In Europe, book stores have been selling Dance for a few hours, while on the East Coast the first wave of book store openings will be happening any minute now. For those who ordered online it is a waiting game, listening for that doorbell to ring signalling a package has arrived. And, of course, those with eReaders had everyone beat; they were able to download their copy late last night.
Use this thread to discuss your thoughts and reaction to the book. Tell us which of your crazy theories proved true and what new crazy theories you have developed based on the events of Dance. We won’t be requiring spoiler tags in the comments, so only venture into the comments if you have read the entire book!
Report: 3 actors cast, one from recently-canceled Camelot
British actor Clive Standen, who most recently appeared in Starz’s short-lived Camelot, has let slip on Twitter that he has heard the names of three actors that will be added to the Game of Thrones cast for season two. He calls the news “massive” and reveals that one of the 3 appeared with him on Camelot, while another appeared in some other Arthurian film or TV show. Here are the tweets:
@CliveStanden: Just heard some massive casting news for season 2 of GOT’s…3 amazing actors (one Camelot alumnus) great choices
@CliveStanden: …Actually 2 Camelot alumni…but only one from our show
Winter Is Coming: So who could it be? James Purefoy was in Camelot and has been praising Game of Thrones in recent interviews. Eva Green is a popular fan choice for Melisandre. Jamie Campbell-Bower has been cast once already, he was Waymar in the original pilot. Or maybe Claire Forlani? She hasn’t been brought up in any casting discussions that I know of, but she would make a great Mel.
And about this other Camelot alum, I’m wondering if that particular actor might be found in the King Arthur cast. Lots of intriguing names there… Let the speculation begin!