It was a week low on film news and heavy on television as the independent film world largely seemed to take a break for recoupment following last week’s closing of the Cannes Film Festival. The Writer’s Guild of America announced their choices for the 101 best written television shows of all time, with the expected amount of upsets and surprises, while “Hannibal” and “Game of Thrones,” in the wake of perhaps the most talked-about episode of this year’s television slate, continued to provide ample space for the discussion of their portrayals of violence and character deaths in ongoing series. Meanwhile we got our first looks at Helena Bonham Carter and Dominic West as “Burton & Taylor,” the killer whale documentary “Blackfish,” and the latest season of “The Newsroom,” while the much-maligned release of M. Night Shyamalan’s “After Earth” caused us to propose that a return to his independent roots may give his career the rejuvenation it so desperately needs.
Take a look at all of these stories and more below as we take a look at the ten most viewed news, interviews and features from this week at Indiewire:
Queue It Up: 19 of 2012’s Best Films Now Available on Netflix
With our attention mainly placed on the current independent summer release calendar, it’s hard to keep track of the countless films slipping under the radar throughout the past year, but thanks to the magic of online streaming, getting caught up on the releases that fell through the cracks is now easier than ever. We compiled a list of all of the films that made our 2012 Year-End Critic’s Poll, and offer the 19 best films of 2012 currently available for Netflix streaming, including our pick for the best film of last year with Leos Carax’s undefinable odyssey “Holy Motors,” and many other great choices.
Following their 2006 list of the 101 Greatest Screenplays, the Writers Guild of America has announced their comprehensive list of the best written television shows of all time, and as is the case with any list of this nature the choices were not without controversy. Coming in at number 1 was HBO’s “The Sopranos,” followed by “Seinfeld” and “The Twilight Zone.” While those show’s placement in the pantheon of television writing is hardly questionable, the placement of other shows such as “The Wire,” “Breaking Bad,” and just about everything else was argued over whether or not they received their proper acknowledge amongst the massive group of selections.
How ‘Hannibal’ Earns Its Violence By Engaging Our Fears About Watching
As graphic violence and high body counts have become more of a mainstay in popular television programming with its depictions in shows like “The Walking Dead” and “Game of Thrones,” the process of differentiating a show’s violent depictions from the onslaught available can be difficult, which is exactly what makes the disturbing brutality of NBC’s “Hannibal standout so far in the first place. Throughout its first season, Bryan Fuller’s “Silence of the Lambs” prequel has been applauded for the ingenuity seeping into the show’s serial killer subject matter, and how its depiction of graphic violence may be the most imaginative on display during this year’s television season.
Continuing the extension of our summer movie list, we presented our preview of the 10 top Indie alternatives coming out this month, including new films from Joss Whedon, Sofia Coppola, and Pedro Almodovar. With over 30 films listed on our June calendar, there is no shortage of indie options at the theater this month, with other highlights including Xavier Dolan’s latest Laurence Anyways, Peter Strickland’s psychological thriller “Berberian Sound Studio,” and Neil Jordan’s return to the bloodsucker genre with “Byzantium.”
In the wake of one of the most shocking instances of character deaths in television history, Allison WIllmore looked at both this week’s aforementioned “Game of Thrones” episode and the third season of “The Walking Dead” to look at how the phenomenon speaks to the greater thematic strategies of the shows at hand. With the brutal shake-ups facing both series, their truer focus on a much broader scale (whether the titular “Game,” or the overbearing dread of “The Walking Dead”) is showcased and the viewer is forced to reevaluate their relationship with the series as a whole.
Telling the story of Tilikum, the performing killer whale who swallowed its trainer whole at SeaWorld, Magnolia Pictures’ upcoming documentary “Blackfish” aims to dispel the notion that killer whales are largely peaceful creatures, something its heart-stopping new trailer accomplishes perfectly. Using never before seen footage, interviews, and information on the cruel treatment of the captivity facing orcas, the film sheds new light on the disillusionment currently facing the sea-park industry and what needs to be understood to put a stop to it.
As the critical and box office disappointments of M. Night Shyamalan’s “After Earth” continue to suggest that the filmmaker has entirely lost the spark that first put him on the map, IW’s Eric Kohn suggests an alternate route for the director to reinvigorate his stagnant career in the wake of another filmmaker’s recent success within the indie space. Similar to Shyamalan, Joss Whedon’s career has been often defined by the storytelling expectations surrounding his releases, and as his just-released “Much Ado About Nothing” suggests, there may be no better place to comfortably secure a once-held integrity than outside of the studio system. Now with Shyamalan speaking openly about his adoration for independent filmmaking, he may finally be giving his career the inspection it desperately needs before destroying itself entirely.
Here’s Your First Look at Dominic West and Helena Bonham Carter as ‘Burton & Taylor’
While the Lindsay Lohan-Grant Bowler starring disaster “Liz and Dick” still lingers in our minds, we have received our first look at Dominic West and Helena Bonham Carter’s take on the famously volatile couple in BBC America’s TV movie “Burton & Taylor,” looking their parts perfectly and bringing a significantly larger amount of pedigree with it. Following their 1983 stage revival of Noel Coward’s “Private Lives,” the film depicts the late romance of the couple, and if the image of the two is any indication, we are in for one hell of a biopic when it premieres this fall.
Watch: Samuel L Jackson Does the ‘I Am The One Who Knocks!’ Monologue From ‘Breaking Bad’
Following his decision to record monologues chosen by the Reddit community in exchange for donations to the Alzheimer’s Association, Samuel L Jackson has recorded his second video for the site, taking the opportunity to step away from the original speeches submitted on the site and instead accepting one Redditor’s suggestion of Walter White’s infamous speech from the fourth season of “Breaking Bad.” Without the context of the show, Jackson is still able to bring the expected gravitas to the monologue in which White explains that he is in complete control of the situation around him, proving once again that few around can deliver an impassioned speech the same way he can, even through the confines of his living room webcam.
Watch: The Trailer for ‘The Newsroom’ Shows the Cast Standing Alone in a Desert of Inadequate TV Journalism
Choosing to eschew footage from the upcoming season in favor of a more symbolic portrayal, HBO finally gave viewers their first look at the upcoming second season of Aaron Sorkin’s cable news drama “The Newsroom,” before its premiere on July 14th. The clip portrays Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) and his team stranded in the desert and forced to reexamine their frustrations, relationships, and lives while watched by the omnipresent Leona Lansing (Jane Fonda). The clip features no footage of the many new faces joining the cast this season, including Patton Oswalt and Marcia Gay Harden, but provides ample set up before its return next month.