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The 'Pretty Little Liars' Dilemma: Why my friends are giving up on the show

Pretty Little Liars fans love mystery. Trying to figure out who’s on the “A” team is nothing if not a good time. But now, with only two episodes left in Season 4′s summer run, I’m surrounded by friends and fans who are talking about giving up on the show … if they haven’t already. And let’s just say, it doesn’t have anything to do with the attractiveness of the cast.

But what is it that’s making people throw in the towel? Well, my diagnosis is what will be referred to as the Pretty Little Liars Dilemma: Too many questions, not enough answers, and not enough risk.
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The 'Stranger' tease: Five theories about J.J. Abrams' newest pop culture mystery

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J.J. Abrams cast a meaty hook into the Web waters on Aug. 19, a teaser for a new entertainment project that we may or may not know anything about. The mystery box angler loves using this kind of bait: “Stranger” is reminiscent of his puzzling promo stuff for Super-8 or the crypto-content that the Lost brain trust used to feed fans during hiatus. (Remember “The Last Supper” ads prior to season 6?) Decoding this kind of stuff isn’t for everyone. And for some, it annoys as much as it amuses. Regardless: We’re biting. Because we are easily amused, and because we ran out of Breaking Bad analysis to read, and because no one  knows how to bait a hook quite like J.J. Abrams. We love how he turns marketing hype into storytelling fun. What’s “Stranger” about? Five theories — none of which involve Star Wars Episode VII (we assume it’s still wayyy too early for that). READ FULL STORY

'Doctor Who': In a parallel universe, could Bill Nighy be the Doctor?

In an interview with The Express, veteran actor Bill Nighy shared that he was contacted to play the TARDIS-traveling Time Lord for the latest series of Doctor Who but turned the offer down. “I will say that I was approached,” said Nighy to The Express. “But I didn’t want to be the Doctor. No disrespect to Doctor Who or anything, I just think that it comes with too much baggage.”

Peter Capaldi, known for his swear-tastic performance as Malcolm Tucker in the political comedy The Thick of It, was just chosen as the Twelfth Doctor. It’s unclear whether Nighy recently turned down the offer, though, so he might not have been in competition with Capaldi, but a different Doctor. Nighy praised the choice of Capaldi for the role, continuing in The Express, “He’s a marvellous actor. He’ll be very good as the Doctor. He’ll bring a lot of wit and dry humour. He’s elegant and he looks great.”

Nighy briefly appeared on Doctor Who, making a cameo as Dr. Black, a bow tie-rocking art historian, who encounters the Doctor (Matt Smith) and companion Amy Pond (Karen Gillan). In the episode, titled “Vincent and the Doctor,” the Doctor and Amy bring new friend Vincent Van Gogh (Tony Curran) to a gallery exhibition of his work at Paris’ Musée d’Orsay. The emotional and erratic Van Gogh is brought to tears when overhearing Nighy’s Black describe Van Gogh as the “finest painter of them.”
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Pop Culture Pet Peeve: Having a breakdown? Better chop off all your hair first

How did The Newsroom‘s Maggie Jordan go from cheerful, wide-eyed Goldilocks to twitchy, traumatized wraith — and a dead ringer for ex-Top Model Marjorie, who herself was none too stable? Spoiler alert: It’s not just because “women try things” with their hair, as Will McAvoy said with a shrug in season 2′s premiere.

No, the truth lies in Uganda — where, as we saw in last night’s episode, Maggie befriended an adorable little boy named Issa Daniel who just loved touching her shiny golden tresses. (“He’s never seen hair like yours,” Wise African Teacher or Whatever explained to Maggie. “That color’s called blond, Daniel. It’s nothing but trouble.” Sorkin. Sorkin.)

Alas, Maggie’s time abroad wasn’t all smiling children and vague racism. Thanks to the presence of News Night‘s crew, Daniel’s orphanage was targeted by gun-toting camera thieves. In the ensuing melee, the kid was of course shot and killed — leading a grieving Maggie to express her sorrow by staring dead-eyed into a mirror, picking up a giant pair of scissors, and hacking away until she was left with a coif that even Fantine would consider drastic.

Of course, she’s not alone.  READ FULL STORY

Pop Culture Pet Peeve: The no-consequences car chase

I’m going to start off by saying that I love action flicks; my girlfriends and I giddily chat about the newest 2 Fast and 2 Furious Drift x 5 (that’s the official title, right?) trailer, I scrambled to sign up for the Action in Cinema class in college before it got filled up with those boys who think that Die Hard is a classic right up there with Citizen Kane (OK, I kind of agree with them), and I often do work while casually watching 300 in the background. Done right, the action film offers up the perfect amount of drama, one-liners, tension, and, of course, adrenaline-pumping action.

That being said, there’s one thing that irks me the most about this wonderful genre: The car chase. Look, I’m not daft, I know that there’s a 99.9 percent chance that there will be a car chase through a busy street at some point in an action film, but after seeing it done over and over again, it’s lost the nail-biting edge that it used to have. When it came out in 1968, Peter Yates’ Bullitt freaked everyone out with its windy car chase through the streets of San Francisco. But now? The audience knows what’s going to happen: The police think that our hero is a bad, bad man. They will proceed to chase him through some busy street. There will be close calls, but the hero will outsmart them because the film must go on!

But in real life, a car chase through a busy downtown area is next to impossible. A Los Angeles highway late at night? Sure. I remember when I first moved to L.A. from New York, I was amazed that there were actual car chases on the news several times a week. They always got caught, but for a few minutes, perhaps even an hour, some schmuck would do 100 down the empty 110 at midnight hoping to get away. That is believable. Going record speeds and managing to escape the po-po in New York, London, or even downtown L.A.? Nope. Not happening. Have you seen what happens during rush hour? It’s hard enough for me to squeeze onto the subway let alone pass my car through nonexistent openings in lanes. It would also take about five seconds for a cab driver to crash into you.
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'Catfish': Top five craziest bait-and-switch episodes

Catfish: The TV Show is known for shedding light on the crazy situations people involved in virtual relationships get themselves into. But last night’s episode featured a particularly crazy turn of events.

It turns out Ramon, who said he only had an inkling that his virtual love Paola was not being truthful, actually had video chats and conversations with Loyda, the real person behind “Paola,” prior to the show. What’s more, Loyda fabricated a fake engagement to Ramon on her real Facebook — and that doesn’t even cover Ramon’s apparent selective memory or his more than $3,000 in gifts and money to “Paola.” Last night’s OMG moments place it among the most bizarre situations since recorded on the MTV series.

Check out the top five craziest Catfish reveals, ranked below:
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Is Lindsay Lohan the modern-day Marilyn Monroe? Paul Schrader thinks so

Paul Schrader, director of The Canyons, Lindsay Lohan’s upcoming “comeback” project, has taken to FilmComment.com to discuss his troubled starlet and compare her to another troubled starlet Lohan regularly aspires to emulate: Marilyn Monroe.

With quotes such as, “I think Lohan has more natural acting talent than Monroe did,” it’s easy to roll your eyes, but Schrader’s essay about the differences of being über-famous 50 years ago and now is quite compelling. The director discusses how both Lohan and Monroe “exist in the space between actors and celebrities, people whose professional and personal performances are more or less indistinguishable. Entertainers understand the distinction. To be successful, a performer controls the balance between the professional and personal, that is, he or she makes it seem like the professional is personal. It is the lack of this control that gives performers like Monroe and Lohan (and others) their unique attraction. We sense that the actress is not performing, that we are watching life itself. We call them ‘troubled,’ ‘tormented,’ ‘train wrecks’ — but we can’t turn away. We can’t stop watching. They get under our skin in a way that controlled performers can’t.”
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Kim and Kanye have named their baby ...

America, if you’ve been Keeping up with the Kardashian baby name saga, the speculation game is officially over.

And the answer isn’t Kaidence. (Unfortunately?)

People confirms that Kim Kardashian and Kanye West have named their celebspawn … NORTH WEST.

Yes, far less awesome than North-by-North, but we’ll take it. I guess. If I’m being honest, I’m a little underwhelmed — mostly because rumors of a baby named North have swirled since March.

TMZ, the common man’s wooden easel, was the first to report.
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James Franco writes the most ridiculous superhero article ever. We have some concerns.

Dear James Franco,

Congratulations! You’re kind of having a moment right now. Your hilarious turn as “yourself” – an art-obsessed serious actor who may or may not be gay – in This Is The End is a recent high point for you that is charming audiences and critics alike. This is a great break because, despite being an Oscar-nominated dramatic actor, people tend to kind of roll their eyes at you and your various projects, books, and college courses. (Not me! But some people.) I figured you could ride this out and parlay it into a few more great, interesting films that would remind people why they were intrigued by you as an actor in the first place and I wouldn’t have to worry about what’s become of you anymore, and I could move on to worrying if Ryan Gosling has become a parody of himself.

But then you went and wrote one of the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever read from you. I don’t even know what to do with it. According to an all-over-the-place article you wrote for Vice about superheroes, you snuck into the premiere of Man of Steel and now you’ve got thoughts about superheroes! And money! And Henry Cavill! And sequels!

Let’s highlight a few quotes from your piece, shall we?
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Russell Brand outsmarts and out-funnys MSNBC's 'Morning Joe' crew -- VIDEO

Hey, cable news: Don’t mess with Russell Brand.

The funnyman was on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Monday, and the gaggle of talking heads was a full-on hot mess interviewing the comedian. He was there to promote his upcoming Messiah Complex tour (sounds like someone has been taking naming advice from Jay-Z!), but instead, the talk devolved into questioning why they couldn’t understand his accent and openly admitting they knew nothing about him.

Brand remained a jovial sport, despite the complete lack of trying on the part of the anchors. Watch a cringe-worthy clip below, and then join me for some discussion questions:
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