REVIEW: NEW GIRL – SEASON 3

Starring

Zooey Deschanel (Bridge to Terabithia)
Jake Johnson (Jurrasic World)
Max Greenfield (Veronica Mars)
Lamorne Morris (Game Night)
Hannah Simone (Oldboy)

Zooey Deschanel and Jake Johnson in New Girl (2011)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Merritt Weaver (Signs)
Dreama Walker (Compliance)
Eva Amurri Martino (Saved)
Curtis Armstronng (American Dad)
Brenda Song (Dads)
Riki Lindhome (The Lego Batman Movie)
Jon Lovitz (Happiness)
Taye Diggs (Go)
Damon Wayans Jr. (Let’s Be Cops)
Jessica Chaffin (The HEat)
Brian Posehn (The Big Bang Theory)
Bob Gunton (Daredevil)
Gillian Vigman (The Hangover)
Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween)
Ben Falcone (Enough Said)
June Diane Raphael (Year One0
Josh Gad (Frozen)
Prince (Graffiti Bridge)
Adam Brody (Jennifer’s Body)
Mary Elizabeth Ellis (Santa Clarita Diet)
Tiffany Haddish (Girls Trip)
Linda Cardellini (Scooby-Doo)
Alexandra Daddario (Baywatch)
Stevie Nelson (The Mad Ones)
Kerri Kenney (Wanderlust)
Rob Reiner (EDTV)

Zooey Deschanel, Mark Proksch, Angela Kinsey, and Dreama Walker in New Girl (2011)Coach’s return was a little unexpected, there was already a great ensemble, why mess with it? For those who don’t know, Coach was one of the original characters from the pilot. Wayans’s was already cast in Happy Endings, but with Happy Endings suffering in the ratings, it was expected to be cancelled, leaving Wayans’s free to find another role. It didn’t get cancelled, and New Girl even benefited with the addition of Winston. Eventually, Happy Endings was cancelled, and Coach comes back. Coach’s return to, guess what, coaching was inspired, and his slight change in focus really benefits both him and Schmidt, as well as the show as a whole. By the end of the season, it feels like Coach has always been there!Max Greenfield and Jake Johnson in New Girl (2011)Then there is Winston. It really is a testament to Lamorne Morris’s ability as an actor and comic that he has got so much out of character that doesn’t really have much to do. I think he’s one of the least developed characters, and with so much focus on Nick & Jess, the re-introduction of Coach and Schmidt’s all round issues, he’s left to fill out episode storylines without getting much development himself. The comic relief Winston provides is necessary to balance out the drama with the other characters, but it’s a shame so much of it is just short story arcs or lasts just a single episode. If there’s any area I’d like season 4 to develop, it’s Winston. There is just too much talent and comedy to ignore.Zooey Deschanel, Max Greenfield, Damon Wayans Jr., Lamorne Morris, and Jake Johnson in New Girl (2011)New Girl continues its solid track record, producing a classic relationship season without losing the fact it’s a comedy at heart. Well executed by all involved.

REVIEW: NEW GIRL – SEASON 2

Starring

Zooey Deschanel (Bridge to Terabithia)
Jake Johnson (Jurrasic World)
Max Greenfield (Veronica Mars)
Lamorne Morris (Game Night)
Hannah Simone (Oldboy)

Zooey Deschanel in New Girl (2011)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Parker Posey (Superman Returns)
Rachael Harris (Lucifer)
Nelson Franklin (Captain Marvel)
David Walton (Bad Moms)
Raymond J. Barry (Falling Down)
Josh Gad (Murder on The Orient Express)
Kali Hawk (Bridesmaids)
Rebecca Reid (I Live With Models)
Carla Gugino (Watchmen)
Molly Cheek (American Pie)
Rob Riggle (21 Jump Street)
Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween)
Rob Reiner (This Is Spinal Tap)
Lauren Dair Owens (Astrid Clover)
June Diane Raphael (Year One)
Jeff Kober (Buffy: TVS)
Olivia Munn (X-Men: Apocalypse)
Dennis Farina (Get Shorty)
Nate Corddry (Mom)
Brenda Song (Dads)
Brooklyn Decker (Battleship)
Satya Bhabha (Sense8)
Michael Vlamis (Roswell, New Mexico)
Odette Annable (Supergirl)
Margo Martindale (Sneaky Pete)
Ellen Albertini Dow (Wedding Crashers)
Nick Kroll (Sing)
Dermot Mulroney (Young Guns)
Ron Funches (Powerless)
Merritt Wever (Signs)
Johnny Pemberton (Son of Zorn)
Curtis Armstrong (American Dad)
Mary Lynn Rajskub (2 Broke Girls)
Taylor Swift (The Giver)
Ajay Mehta (Anger Management)
Ariela Barer (Runaways)

Zooey Deschanel in New Girl (2011)The first season of New Girl established the will-they-won’t-they pairing of Nick and Jess and the they-did-will-it-last coupling of Schmidt and CeCe, so the second season is all about raising the stakes for them. For Nick and Jess this takes the form of bad relationships keeping their minds off messing with the loft dynamic by dating a roommate. Though each has some legitimate opportunities for happiness, be it Jess’ commitment-phobic Dr. Sam or Nick’s sexually adventurous stripper girlfriend (played by Olivia Munn.) However knowing that there remains a chance they could end up together leads to frequent self-sabotage.Zooey Deschanel and David Walton in New Girl (2011)As much as Deschannel is the star of the show, Johnson has quietly become just as integral, as Nick grows and discovers himself, with the help of his future self and a water-massaging elderly Asian gentleman (the show can get weird sometimes.)For Schmidt and CeCe, reality is far less promising, as CeCe begins to sense her biological clock is ticking, and finds herself on a course for an arranged marriage to a pleasant man who just isn’t Schmidt. Meanwhile, the one true Schmidt seeks to alleviate the impending loss of his caramel queen by running back to his one true love, Elizabeth, a girl he dated in college, when he was hundreds of pounds heavier. It sets up a troubling love triangle, as the real Schmidt is just right for Elizabeth, but the Schmidt he wants to be is a perfect match for CeCe.Zooey Deschanel, Maria Thayer, and Jake Johnson in New Girl (2011)While there’s a grimy aspect to Schmidt keeping two women secret from each other, on the other hand, Greenfield makes it work by showing Schmidt cares about both women and is, oddly, doing it to not hurt either of them, rather than out of some sort of romantic greed. It’s an unusual situation, and one the show handles well.The focus on Schmidt and CeCe this season unleashes the show’s secret weapon, as Simone proves to be one of the most consistently funny performers in the series, popping in a look or a delivery that’s just perfect for the situation. Many of the show’s best moments this season grow out of CeCe’s on and off again connection with Schmidt, with the season’s home-stretch existing only thanks to the culture clash that grows from her arranged marriage, Part of what makes her so entertaining is how her exotic beauty gets betrayed to hilarious effect by her ability to be wonderfully silly. (The other benefit of having CeCe around is the presence of her Russian modeling pal Nadia (Rebecca Reid), who is economically hysterical, with a higher laugh to word ratio than anyone on TV.)Jamie Lee Curtis, Zooey Deschanel, Max Greenfield, and Hannah Simone in New Girl (2011)The mix in the loft is why the show works so well, as the quartet of roomies and friends behaves realistically, no matter how offbeat the situation may be or how odd the four may sometimes get. So whether it’s Schmidt feeling old thanks to some hipsters who have imoved in and befriended Jess, the exploration of the group’s most annoying aspects (a.k.a. “pogos”) or Winston struggling with his period, they mercilessly tease each other, but have each other’s back to the end. This is never more clearly illustrated than in “Virgins,” where the crew one-up each other with their horrible tales of their first sexual experiences. The way they interact is as close to real friends as anything on TV.Zooey Deschanel and Hannah Simone in New Girl (2011)With the series expanding upon the world created in the first season, we get to meet more of the people in the lives of the four roommates, and those additions were rather impressive, to go with returning speicial guests, like June Diane Raphael (playing Jess’ lesbian gynocologist.) The late Dennis Farina had a great turn as Nick’s con-man father, while Margot Martindale plays his brassy mom, Nick Kroll is his dim-witted brother and Bill Burr is his Beantown cousin. Meanwhile on Jess’ side, they snagged Rob Reiner and Jamie Lee Curtis to play her feuding parents (and Reiner should become a series regular as her dad). Add in Rob Riggle as Schmidt’s brother, Carla Gugino as his sexually-aggressive boss and Brenda Song as Winston’s new lady friend, and the show managed to cultivate a fine ensemble outside of the core five, expanding and improving the series.Zooey Deschanel, David Walton, Olivia Munn, and Jake Johnson in New Girl (2011)The natural progression of the relationships between Nick and Jess and Schmidt and CeCe, along with the changes in the world around them, made for an entertaining season that balanced silly fun with genuine emotion.

REVIEW: THE SOCIAL NETWORK

 

CAST

Jesse Eisenberg (Batman v Superman)
Andrew Garfield (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Armie Hammer (The Lone Ranger)
Justin Timberlake (Friends With Benefits)
Rooney Mara (Her)
Dakota Johnson (Fifty Shades of Grey)
Rashida Jones (I Love You, Man)
Josh Pence (The Dark Knight Rises)
Malese Jow (The Vampire Diaries)
Lacey Beeman (Power Rangers Time Force)
Jason Flemyng (Snatch)
Jessie Heiman (Chuck)
Riley Voelkel (The Originals)
Joseph Mazzello (Jurassic Park)
Barry Livingston (Argo)
Max Minghella (Horns)
Brenda Song (Dads)
Oliver Muirhead (Like Crazy)
Caleb Landry Jones (Get Out)

MV5BZmRiMzA2MzAtNzAxZC00M2EyLTg1NDctODJkOWQ1MGEyM2UzXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMzY5MzAxMDc@._V1_David Fincher’s The Social Network is a business procedural played with the intensity of a thriller and the ingenuity of a screwball comedy. It’s something of a departure for the filmmaker, whose pictures lean toward visual pyrotechnics and darker, more disturbing themes. Handling a screenplay by Aaron Sorkin that consists primarily of people in rooms talking, and in which the violence is purely psychological, he curbs his occasional excesses and cooks up his most satisfying film to date. Though mining (with some significant departures from the official record) the origin story of Facebook, a presumably of-the-moment phenomenon, Fincher and Sorkin have made a movie that is about more than its ostensible subject. Yes, The Social Network examines, at least implicitly, the cultural moment that precipitates the explosion of a site that aims specifically to make the social experience a virtual construct. But where the film strikes oil is in understanding the kind of guy who would want to create that experience.His name is Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg), and the opening scene that introduces him is a whiz-bang Sorkin special–a flurry of rat-tat-tat dialogue and cranked-up interplay in which characters talk non-stop while revealing themselves only accidentally. Zuckerberg, a smug Harvard sophomore obsessed with the university social hierarchy that he cannot penetrate, is out with his girlfriend Erica (Rooney Mara); he clearly sees himself as smarter than her (she attends lowly Boston University), but she’s so adroit at conversational maneuvers that before he realizes it, she’s broken up with him. Depressed and half-drunk, he goes back to his dorm, blogs some hurtful things about her, and concocts a website called “facemash” that pulls pictures from campus sites and lets students rank the women against each other. Fincher gives this embryonic sequence the finesse and energy of an action scene–particularly as he intercuts the rich and powerful “club” kids living the life Mark longs for, the velvety seductiveness of the haves in sharp contrast to the laptop tappings of the have-nots.MV5BYjUyYzEzNTMtYzVlYS00ZDJlLWE0MzAtZDU0ZWM2YjE3NWU4XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMzQ3Nzk5MTU@._V1_The program crashes Harvard’s server and gets him called on the university carpet, but it also catches the attention of would-be power broker Divya Narenda (Max Minghella) and irritatingly entitled rich twins Tyler and Cameron Winlevoss (both played by Armie Hammer). The trio approaches Mark with an idea for a new networking site–“The Harvard Connection,” a school-wide apparatus for profiles, pictures, and so on. Mark jumps in, but decides almost immediately that he can do this thing better than they can; he builds on the concept, hits up his best friend–and occasional conscience–Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) for a grand or so in start-up funds, and launches his version, “the facebook.”The complex saga of the rise of Facebook (and of Zuckerberg) is told in interlocking depositions (“I’m currently in the middle of two lawsuits,” Mark explains, somewhat impatiently), which sounds like the dullest imaginable framework for a narrative. But the picture gets a kick from Sorkin’s distinctive conversational rhythms and considerable skills as a wordsmith. The Social Network is a whirlwind of talk–invigorating, intelligent, fast-paced dialogue, from the throwaway lines to the occasional loquacious show-stopper. Every Sorkin script has one (Nicholson’s “You can’t handle the truth” bit in A Few Good Men is the obvious example, though Baldwin’s “I am God” speech in Malice is nearly as quotable); here, it comes when the Winlevosses’ lawyer asks Mark, “Do I have your full attention?,” unleashing a perfect storm of Sorkinian attitude, snark, and barely-contained impatience. “You have part of my attention–you have the minimum amount,” Mark snaps. “The rest of my attention is back at the offices of Facebook, where my colleagues and I are doing things that no one in this room, including and especially your clients, are intellectually or creatively capable of doing. Did I adequately answer your condescending question?”Performances are universally strong–Andrew Garfield (The Amazing Spiderman) is immensely likable and marginally heartbreaking, Hammer’s double-playing is simple but effective, and Timberlake, as the well-connected but semi-flaky Parker, handily sells his multi-layered portrait of the guy who knows all the angles but can’t quite hide his own rough edges. But Eisenberg’s is the breakthrough performance; as good as he’s been as shy, stuttering, would-be intellectuals in Adventureland and Zomiebland, this is a darker and more complicated piece of work. His performance here is somehow both showy and deftly underplayed–you get the sense, from that very first scene, that he’s already tired of always being the smartest guy in the room.Jesse Eisenberg in The Social Network (2010)When The Social Network was announced, it seemed such an oddball project that snickers and jeers were the prevailing response (. But from the unveiling of its mesmerizing trailer, it was clear that this wasn’t just “the Facebook movie,” any more than Citizen Kane was a film about newspapers.