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Revolution Recap: ‘Clue’ (Season 1, Episode 18)

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May 21st, 2013

Season 1 has progressed in such a way that it’s like the show is trying to write itself out of the corner it painted itself in in the “Pilot.” If the series wants to completely reboot itself every year, I’d find that almost admirable.

100 Greatest Gangster Films: Casino, #10

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May 20th, 2013

In the opening shot of Casino, a man in a salmon-colored sports jacket climbs into his Lincoln Continental. He turns the key and the car explodes. Then, as director Martin Scorsese explains it, “You see him in slow motion, flying over the flames—like a soul about to take a dive into hell.”

100 Greatest Gangster Films: Scarface: The Shame of a Nation, #11

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May 19th, 2013

Still, there’s something beyond the stereotypes and the arcane movie talk that makes this a great film. For one, the story it tells remains—as it was then—the American dream come to life: an immigrant from humble beginnings gets the money, gets the power, gets the women. The bad guy has always mesmerized audiences, and Muni is as magnetic as Robert De Niro and Al Pacino were a half-century later.

100 Greatest Gangster Films: Once Upon a Time in America, #12

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May 18th, 2013

Once Upon a Time in America tells the lifelong tale of a clan of Jewish mobsters. It has two main chapters—set in 1920 and 1933—plus a third chapter, set in 1968. Each chapter deals with power and sex and treachery.

100 Greatest Gangster Films: Léon: The Professional, #13

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May 17th, 2013

He’s a highly efficient—but in many ways naïve—hit man who drinks milk, exercises religiously and seems obsessed with the care and maintenance of a houseplant. She’s a 12-year-old who smokes, curses and is wise way beyond her years. Together they form an unlikely crime team in this fascinating and unusual look at the New York underworld.

Movie Review: Star Trek Into Darkness

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May 16th, 2013

By the end, Star Trek Into Darkness ends up feeling too much like a retread of the first feature without offering anything unique or different stylistically or intellectually. The characters are still likable, Abrams (and crew) knows that we like the characters, and Abrams (and crew) clearly likes the characters. Even Scotty’s little green friend returns. That pleasantness can and does cover up many flaws, even if certain moments dance dangerously close to cutesy and irritating.

100 Greatest Gangster Films: Mean Streets, #14

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May 16th, 2013

One of the best things about watching Mean Streets more than 30 years after its debut is that you know what’s coming after this. And so you look and you watch and you listen for little signs—small scenes that are the roots and the seedlings of the Scorsese/De Niro oeuvre.

Blind Boys, Berkeley Blue, Phone Hacks and Wozniak

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May 15th, 2013

The earliest phone phreak I’ve been able to identify was a young man who went by the nickname “Davy Crockett.” Back in the mid-1950s he figured out how to use a Davy Crockett Cat and Canary Bird Call Flute – a little 50-cent whistle they used to sell at Woolworth stores – to mimic a special tone that telephone operators used to communicate with one another. By imitating this tone he could place his own long distance calls for free.

Civil War 150 – A Readers’ Guide (Part 2)

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May 15th, 2013

On a sultry summer afternoon, 150 years ago, a young man named Strong Vincent changed the course of American history. The date was July 2, 1863, around 4 P.M. The place was the left wing of the fish hook-shaped Union defensive position at Gettysburg.

100 Greatest Gangster Films: Reservoir Dogs, #15

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May 15th, 2013

Reservoir Dogs is an action film without much action. A crime drama in which you never see the main crime take place. A comedy that makes you sometimes feel uneasy about laughing. A buddy movie where the buddies end up killing each other.

Revolution Recap: ‘The Longest Day’ (Season 1, Episode 17)

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May 14th, 2013

There are a lot of interesting concepts operating within Revolution‘s borders. Unfortunately, it rarely makes proper use out of any of them. As the season progresses, it’s hard to not be increasingly disappointed by the potential it has squandered in favor of frustrating redundancy.

100 Greatest Gangster Films: Scarface, #16

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May 14th, 2013

A remake of the 1932 classic of the same name starring Paul Muni, Al Pacino’s Scarface is more often compared to his other underworld epics, The Godfather and The Godfather: Part II. All four movies are about the immigrant experience and a charismatic figure from the underclass using any means possible to realize the American dream. The dream, of course, becomes a nightmare.

100 Greatest Gangster Films: White Heat, #17

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May 13th, 2013

This was film noir, movies where evil not only exists, but flourishes. Cagney’s Cody Jarrett isn’t a charismatic outlaw who viewers could vicariously admire, but rather a despicable embodiment of immorality, a man who takes what he wants whenever he wants it, mocking and abusing all those he comes in contact with—including the cops, members of his own gang and his less-than-virtuous wife, Verna (Virginia Mayo).

Boldly Going…: A Look Back At The Original The Original Series Star Trek Movies

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May 12th, 2013

In preparation for Star Trek Into Darkness, I decided to take a look back at the original The Original Series movies, marathon-style. Of course, I have no way of proving that I went through the films in a straight shot, so you can either take my word for it, or not.

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100 Greatest Gangster Films: A Bronx Tale, #18

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May 12th, 2013

A Bronx Tale is more than a wonderful portrait of growing up around the mob in the 1960s. Written by Chazz Palminteri, directed by Robert De Niro and starring both, the movie is a primer on life. No film this side of The Godfather provides as many valuable life lessons.

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