Melissa Leo’s superb supporting performance should have been the center of Novitiate

B-

The 1960s were a confusing time to be a Catholic. Between 1962 and 1965, the Second Vatican Council, informally known as Vatican II, issued a number of declarations and decrees intended to bring the church into the modern era. It was no longer required that Mass be performed in Latin, with the priest facing away from…

We bid goodbye to regular coverage of I’m Dying Up Here by marveling at its ambitious failures

Like a lot of second, third, and fourth-tier attempts at prestige television, Showtime’s I’m Dying Up Here might have looked a lot better a decade ago, before every cable network went after their own flagship scripted content, before the advent of streaming networks with their own flagship series, and before about…

The trailer for Showtime’s I’m Dying Up Here shows the seedy side of ’70s stand-up

Life among professional comedians is not just a continuous throng of laughter. There is a lot of laughter, but at least half of it is mean-spirited, directed at fellow comedians perceived to be unfairly more successful or justly less successful. There’s also a good deal of complaining, a fair amount of gloating, and a…

Burn Country builds off a true story, finding a strong message but weak drama

B-

Burn Country opens with a scene so deliberately disorienting that people who see it at a multiplex may briefly wonder whether they’ve accidentally wandered into the wrong theater. This is an American movie featuring an Afghan protagonist, but the first thing we see is a woman onstage, yelling in unsubtitled Polish for…

Bryan Cranston goes All The Way in his characterization of LBJ

B-

Bryan Cranston won a Tony for playing Lyndon Baines Johnson in the Broadway production of Robert Schenkkan’s historical drama about the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, All The Way. And it’s not hard to see why. The play’s Johnson is the type of outsized real-life figure—complete with ready-built Southern bluster…

Showtime orders Jim Carrey stand-up dramedy I’m Dying Up Here to series

According to Deadline, Showtime has ordered to series the Jim Carrey-produced “hour-long dramatic comedy” I’m Dying Up Here, which sounds like it’s about a sickly grandmother hiding in an attic but actually focuses on struggling comedians. Set in the ’70s Los Angeles stand-up scene, the show stars Melissa Leo as…

Surreal thriller Wayward Pines features a huge twist: It’s actually a lot of fun

B+

Fox’s limited-run, creepy-town thriller Wayward Pines doesn’t exist solely to troll its audience, but one could be forgiven for thinking otherwise after watching its opening scenes. The show begins with an extreme close-up of an eye belonging to Secret Service agent Ethan Burke (Matt Dillon), who snaps awake in an…