Netflix review: Showtime’s “Dexter” (2006-2013)

Dexter Morgan is remembered alongside Jaime Lannister and Patty Hewes as one of the greatest antiheroes in the Golden Age of Television, and for a time, all three of these characters were flying high.

But in the end, none of them could stick the landing.

If you don’t know what to watch next, Showtime’s Dexter (2006-2013) is available to stream on Netflix. The crime drama mystery series is James Manos, Junior’s, adaptation of the 2004 novel Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay.

Leading man Michael C. Hall and guest start John Lithgow both won Golden Globe Awards in 2010 for their portrayals of the Bay Harbor Butcher himself and the iconic Trinity Killer, respectively.

Dexter is a forensic blood spatter analyst for the fictional Miami Metro Police Department moonlighting as a serial killer who murders other serial killers.

His adoptive father, the late Detective Harry Morgan (James Remar), secretly raised him to act on his violent sociopathy as a vigilante.

In order to blend into the civilian crowd, Dexter enters a relationship with the fragile Rita Bennett (Julie Benz) as part of his double life, and because his adoptive sister, Debra Morgan (Jennifer Carpenter), works homicide at Miami Metro, his criminal lifestyle threatens all he has.

The show overstays its welcome by about three or four seasons, but for the first half of its run, it is both a playful dark comedy as well as an astute psychological thriller, fashioning a sharp character study of a psychopath whose victims deserve it.

At its best-written, Hall’s dry voiceover narrates Dexter’s truth, when so much of the character’s life is performance. At its worst, it is repetitive, lazy exposition for onscreen events we can already see for ourselves.

The supporting cast is unevenly characterized also, sometimes to satisfactory effect, only for most of their promising developments to be forgotten about in service of some contrived new conflict.

Filler abounds in the later seasons, and, sometimes, the lattermost villains are unmemorable (the cliched Eastern European hitman, “the Wolf” (Ray Stevenson), in the seventh season; the been-there-done-that “Brain Surgeon” (Darri Ingolfsson) in the eighth season).

Other times, they’re ridiculous (the laughable “Doomsday Killer” (Colin Hanks) in the sixth season).

Much ink has been spilled about the finale, which could’ve been passable without the whack at an ambiguous, open-ended coda tacked onto the end.

To the showrunner’s credit, it is uncanny that Dexter could salvage enough material for its fourth (and best) season after a second season that would have been the last season for any other drama.

While can be argued that it should have ended with the bloody, poetic climax of the fourth season, one of the most game-changing twists of all time, the fifth season is still watchable.

Too bad the same can’t be said for the sixth season.

Even then, there are still two more seasons to go before it’s put out of its misery.

Dexter is a classic example of TV milking its appeal dry until it becomes a pale shadow of its former self, rather than blowing out on a high note like AMC’s Breaking Bad (2008-2013).

It is a cautionary tale that any premise, no matter how ingenious, will be known for how unwatchable it becomes past its shelf life.

For the masterpiece it could’ve been, quit bingeing at the fourth season, and for more of what makes it entertaining, the fifth season.

For the example it’s made of itself in TV history, subject yourself to the slow, painful end.

Rebuilding the Afghanistan film industry under the Taliban

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For six days a week inside a windowless room, four men clean and repair sixteen- and thirty-five-millimeter film one strip at a time. (Image Courtesy: The Washington Post).

With the United States and the Taliban negotiating to end their eighteen-year conflict, archivists at Afghan Film, the nationalized filmmaking company, are conserving and digitizing reels not yet destroyed or decayed since the civil war began in 1992, according to The Washington Post. After taking over Kabul in 1996, the Islamic militants, enforcing the strictest interpretations of religious modesty, banned music and motion pictures to keep women’s faces from appearing onscreen with uncovered hair, lusting for a leading man. Actor Mamnoon Maqsoodi says Afghanistan cherishes movies because they function as a coping mechanism in a rich culture devastated by decades of war.

New study finds Latinx community disproportionately underrepresented in American film

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Together, the Inclusion Initiative and the NALIP recommend more sensitive casting (even for secondary parts), constructing a pipeline for writers, directors, and producers, as well as investing more in resources for Latino artists. (Image Courtesy: TheWrap).

The University of Southern California Annenberg’s Inclusion Initiative, in partnership with the National Partnership of Latino Independent Producers, has found that only three percent of the leads in the top hundred grossing films from 2007 to 2018 are Latino, according to TheWrap. Even further, four-and-a-half percent of all speaking characters are Latino, despite the ethnic group being the largest in the United States, and these roles are commonly relegated to such stereotypes as poor, isolated criminals. Of greater than a thousand top-grossing movies from 2007 to 2018, only four percent of the American directors are Latino (one out of thirteen hundred is Latina), and just three percent of the producers are Latinx.

“The Diary of Anne Frank” gets an animated screen adaptation

Israeli filmmaker Ari Folman, who directed the Golden Globe-winning Waltz with Bashir (2008), is releasing an animated film titled Where Is Anne Frank? about Frank’s life in hiding as well as what awaited her family after their arrest, according to The Jerusalem Post. In March, Folman announced that the seventeen-and-a-half million-euro project had wrapped, complete with English-speaking voice actors as well as two-dimensional characters against stop-motion backgrounds by puppeteer Andy Gent. Gent’s other screen credits include Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) and Isle of Dogs (2018), and no premiere date has yet been scheduled for his collaboration with Folman.

What we know so far about Vince Gilligan’s “El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie” (2019)

Netflix has dropped a teaser trailer for Vince Gilligan’s El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (2019), with authorities interrogating Skinny Pete (Charles Baker) as to the location of Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), according to The Guardian. Taking place after Jesse’s escape in a stolen Chevrolet El Camino at the end of AMC’s Breaking Bad (2008-2013), the only painstakingly curated, spoiler-free details Netflix will release about the film are that for Jesse to have a future, he must face his past. The picture will be uploaded to Netflix October 11, and it is anticipated to be broadcast on AMC as well.

Three monologuing rules for actors at a film audition

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Unless explicitly directed to use theater, the movie monologuist ought to always read from screenplays. (Image Courtesy: Backstage).

Because of Google, YouTube, and Netflix, the temptation for actors to audition with overly imitated monologues has never been more accessible, according to Backstage. Instead, contributor Suzanne LaChasse advises her readers to first learn about performers with a similar casting type, researching their screenplays without watching their films, and then to read the entire script to contextualize the speech with the rest of the story, since acting is storytelling. Finally, LaChasse writes that her audience should find more “active” dialogue which encourages another character toward a clear objective, as internal monologues can be too often sentimentalized and a role is more arresting when the deliverer is advocating for a cause.

Amazon Prime review: Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer’s “Pet Sematary” (2019)

Sometimes, the book is better.

Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer’s Pet Sematary (2019) is available on Amazon Prime, and if you don’t know what to watch next, this one is better left alone.

An adaptation of the 1983 novel of the same name by Stephen King as well as a remake of the 1989 Mary Lambert cult classic, the supernatural horror film was released to a mixed reception. Just fifty-seven percent of critical reviews aggregated on Rotten Tomatoes are positive.

Doctor Louis Creed (Jason Clarke) relocates from Boston to Maine with his wife, Rachel Goldman (Amy Seimetz), daughter, Ellie (Jeté Lawrence), and son, Gage (Hugo and Lucas Lavoie).

New neighbor Jud Crandall (John Lithgow) warns the family about the pet cemetery in the local woods, where children bury their dead animals in the hope that they will come back to life, even if demonic forces are at play.

Once tragedy strikes the Creeds, Louis is faced with the opportunity to play God, and must live with the consequences of it.

The movie is not without its redeeming qualities. As an adaptation and a remake, it is confronted with scaring the audience as horrifyingly as did the original, and it does so through its own edits to the twist and turns in the source material.

For example, the denouement harkens back to Frank Darabont’s The Mist (2007), one of the superior King interpretations.

Otherwise, the picture is a mediocre and forgettable affair. The pacing is better suited for King’s literary medium, which is empowered to internalize the themes of death more vigorously than the cinematic arts can articulate.

Pet Sematary isn’t so much an embarrassment against its production team as it is a waste of the viewer’s time.

They just need to let it die.

Jay Roach’s “Bombshell” (2019) to dramatize Fox News sex scandal

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Gretchen Carlson’s allegations against Roger Ailes inspired a number of other women to come forward a year before the Harvey Weinstein controversy and the #MeToo movement changed mass media forever, ending with Carlson named as one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2017. (Image Courtesy: Elle).

Clocking in just shy of a minute and a half, the wordless trailer for Jay Roach’s Bombshell (2019) takes us on a tense elevator ride with stars Margot Robbie, Charlize Theron, and Nicole Kidman, according to Elle. The film will detail Gretchen Carlson’s 2016 twenty million-dollar sexual harassment lawsuit against former Chairman and CEO of Fox News Roger Ailes (who died in May 2017 at seventy-seven years old), forcing Ailes to resign and find work as a campaign advisor for Donald Trump. Kidman plays Carlson, and John Lithgow, Ailes, while Theron is cast as Megyn Kelly, Robbie as the fictitious Kayla Pospisil, Malcolm McDowell as Rupert Murdoch, Connie Britton as Ailes’s wife, Allison Janney as Susan Estrich (Ailes’s attorney), and Alice Eve as Ainsley Earhardt.

Demi Lovato joins Will Ferrell’s upcoming comedy vehicle

Yesterday, on her twenty-seventh birthday, no less, Demi Lovato announced via Instagram she has been cast in David Dobkin’s Eurovision (without revealing who her character will be), which has no release date scheduled as of yet, according to People. For the video announcement, fifty-two-year-old costar Will Ferrell presents Lovato with a store-bought cake he says he made from scratch before smashing it into the camera, which then cuts to the songstress blowing out her candles on the set. Costarring Rachel McAdams and Pierce Brosnan, the comedy centers around Icelandic musicians Lars Erickssong and Sigrit Ericksdottir at the Eurovision Song Contest.

Forty years since Ridley Scott’s “Alien” (1979), the cinematic extraterrestrial is changing

 

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Sidney Perkowitz, cofounder behind the National Academy of Sciences’ Science and Entertainment Exchange, says Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival (2016) is an outstanding depiction of non-humanoid aliens pursuing intelligent contact. (Image Courtesy: Business Insider).

Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979) was released forty years ago this May, and since then, the Hollywood extraterrestrial has evolved into something more scientifically feasible than the xenomorph, according to Business Insider. Before CGI, science fiction films in the 1950s and 1960s dressed actors in alien costumes, and because sci-fi is often an allegory for society’s fears, these humanoids are almost always hostile, even though physicist and author Sidney Perkowitz says no lifeform is evil for the sake of itself. With mosquitoes carrying viruses farther due to climate change, and filmmakers concerning themselves more with box office figures than scientific accuracy, Daniel Espinosa’s Life (2017) realistically posits that alien life will be discovered microscopically, but still villainizes it.