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The Girl With the Unnecessary Sequel

Noomi Rapace played hacker Lisbeth Salander in the 2009 version of "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo."

Photo by Knut Koivisto

Noomi Rapace played hacker Lisbeth Salander in the 2009 version of "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo."

If you loved Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy like I did, you might be disapppointed in David Lagercrantz's The Girl in the Spider's Web. Punk hacker and avenging angel Lisbeth Salander gets too little ink, and Mikael Blomkvist is now a big old Mary Sue.

Read a review of the book here.

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'Fear the Walking Dead,' season 1 episode 2: L.A. sizzles

Alicia is left to deal with her brother's withdrawal symptoms while Madison is fending off zombie principals.

AMC

Alicia is left to deal with her brother's withdrawal symptoms while Madison is fending off zombie principals.

For those unimpressed with Fear's premiere episode -- citing too much family drama and not enough gore -- episode two sure brought the heat. We still got the family drama -- Nick's drug withdrawal, Travis' indifferent son, Alicia refusing to leave her fevered boyfriend -- but with more zombies and a roller coaster of chaos.

The plan is set: grab the kids and run for the desert.

Disbelief still runs rampant among all the characters, save Nick and Tobias, who is clearly misunderstood. Driving away from the scene of Calvin's grisly demise, Nick fiddles with the radio while Travis and Madison try desperately to contact their other children. Alicia calls from Matt's house, where he is sick with a 103 degree fever and a festering bite on his shoulder (though Alicia doesn't know this detail).

Madison and Travis find Alicia caring for a sickly, sweating Matt. When Alicia leaves the room to fetch more water, Travis pulls back Matt's shirt to reveal a swollen bite wound. Matt convinces Alicia to leave with her parents, and she spends the rest of the night trying to check in on him. …

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MTV Video Music Awards: Taylor Swift reigns, Kanye West rambles and Miley Cyrus shocks (in a good way!)

Taylor Swift and Nicki Minaj opened the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards with a medley including "The Night is Still Young" and "Bad Blood."

Taylor Swift and Nicki Minaj opened the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards with a medley including "The Night is Still Young" and "Bad Blood."

Serious question: Was what transpired on our TV sets Sunday night the MTV Video Music Awards, or a Taylor Swift concert?

The cavalcade of celebrities, the glitztacularly glittery fashions, the endless shots of your girl interjecting herself into someone else’s dance party – this year’s VMAs had all the trappings of one of Taylor’s recent tour gigs. It was a night orchestrated to please Swift and her Swifties in all their hive-mind glory.

Kanye West may have received the Video Vanguard Award – with onetime nemesis Taylor introducing him, natch – but this still felt a little like a Kennedy Center tribute to the reigning Queen of Pop, never more so than when Swift won Video of the Year for her star-studded mini-film Bad Blood.

"Thank you from the bottom of my heart," Swift said in her acceptance speech, flanked by living, breathing A-list accessories like Selena Gomez, Cara Delevigne and Hailee Steinfeld. "I know there’s been a lot of discussion about this video and what it means, but I’m just happy that in 2015, we live in a world where boys can play princesses, and girls can play soldiers." Full Story

Top 5 movie-based theme park attractions besides 'Fast & Furious’

Attendance exploded at Universal after The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened, letting muggles pretend for a little while they are in the world of the boy wizard.

Universal Orlando Resort

Attendance exploded at Universal after The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened, letting muggles pretend for a little while they are in the world of the boy wizard.

With the news that the Fast & Furious franchise is getting its own theme park treatment as a ride at Universal Studios, let's take a look at the rest of the theme park attractions that we have thanks to Hollywood.  Film critic Matt Singer of ScreenCrush once smartly observed that theme park attractions are "a perfect microcosm of modern Hollywood, where family-friendly 3-D escapism and the potential for merchandise sales are the only things that matter."

Cynicism aside, here are my top five theme park attractions that got their start in the movies, and feel free to tell me I'm wrong or point out what I overlooked in the comments section:

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: The game changer in the theme park scene is not just a ride that makes you feel like you are flying around Hogwarts, it's two whole sections of two Universal Orlando theme parks that are an immersion into J.K. Rowling's imagination. From cold draughts of Butterbeer to a ride on the Hogwarts Express between to the two theme parks, muggles can pretend for a little while that they are part her world. …

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Tonight's 'Mr. Robot' finale postponed due to similarity to Virginia on-air killings

USA Network

USA Network has postponed tonight's season finale of Mr. Robot for one week because the episode includes a scene that shares similarities with the tragic on-air killings that occurred Wednesday morning in Roanoke, Va.

“Out of respect to the victims, their families and colleagues, and our viewers, we are postponing tonight’s episode," USA told Variety in a statement. "Our thoughts go out to all those affected during this difficult time."

The final episode of the hacker-centric thriller's debut season is now scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 2, at its regular time of 10 p.m. USA will air last week's episode to fill tonight's slot.

Early this morning, a reporter and cameraman for WDJB-TV were shot and killed by a former co-worker during a live broadcast. The co-worker fled the scene, posted video of the shooting on social media, then fatally shot himself.

USA decided to hold off on airing the episode because the finale starring Rami Malek and Christian Slater “contains a graphic scene similar in nature to today’s tragic events in Virginia.”

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Brando, Vidal/Buckley docs opening at Tampa Theatre

Listen to Me MarloBrando's personal photos and recordings inform Listen to Me Marlon

Passion Pictures

Listen to Me MarloBrando's personal photos and recordings inform Listen to Me Marlon

One of the most frustrating things about this job is enduring exhibitors, bookers, distributors and their publicists, who are entrusted with the visions of artists and moviegoers' tastes, then treat them with such low respect.

Cases in point: Two well-reviewed (elsewhere) documentaries opening Friday at Tampa Theatre but somewhere along the marketing line no one thought to let the media know in time to effectively spread the word.

Listen to Me Marlon (unrated) uses hundreds of hours of Marlon Brando's personal, tape-recorded diaries to create what has been termed "a superbly crafted collage" by Variety. Certainly movie buffs will be interested.

Playing in rotation with the Brando documentary is Best of Enemies (R), a documentary recalling the nationally televised debates in 1968 between intellectuals and political opposites Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley. Variety called it "provocative as an account of what arguably was an early step in the decline of political discourse on television."

In other words, we can blame either Fox News and Bill Maher on these guys, depending upon your political leaning. …

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Bachelor in Paradise, Season 2, Week 4 - Ben H. will be back in January!

Take a long look, America. You'll be able to spend two hours a week with that mug in January.

ABC

Take a long look, America. You'll be able to spend two hours a week with that mug in January.

So, Bachelor in Paradise was really interesting this week. But who cares?

Ben Higgins is The Bachelor! (Breaks into victory dance. Pops cork on an $8 bottle of champagne.)

They tried to trick us. No one was fooled. Ben H. has been anointed since the moment he galloped on horseback over the lush green fields of Ireland and strutted into the castle of our hearts. 

He was so sweet, smart and open to expressing his fears that you couldn't help but root for the guy to find love. I mean, his last beak up made him wonder if he was unlovable. Who hasn't been there?

Welcome into America's loving bosom, Ben. We'll commence questioning your judgment as a parade of eligible women who probably wanted to meet you but also really waned to be on TV tamp down their crazy for long enough to woo you. 

I guess we still have to talk about Week 4 of Bachelor in Paradise though, so here goes. 

Joe. Bwahahahahahahahahaha.

Seriously, it was awful what happened to him but hard to feel bad. He ruthlessly pursued love and found out too late he was chasing a shark and not a tuna.  …

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'Fear the Walking Dead' series premiere: the slow burn

Nick Clark sprints away from the blood-soaked drug den/abandoned church.

AMC

Nick Clark sprints away from the blood-soaked drug den/abandoned church.

It all started with Gloria.

She's the first person Nick Clark yells for when he wakes up in a junkie drug den wearing a white, cropped cardigan. But instead of finding his friends sipping coffee and munching on bagels, Nick finds one with his throat ripped out and Gloria snacking on another unnamed friend like it was a free brunch buffet.

Nick bolts, sprinting as fast as his lanky legs and cardigan cape will let him. Then he gets hit by a car. What a terrible way to wake up with a drug-induced hangover.

And so it begins.

Sunday's premiere of Fear the Walking Dead gave us the chaos and tension of the unknown. Dead superfans, e.g. me, already know what's going on, what's going to happen, the proper way to kill a walker, etc.

But Fear gives us those terrifying details of society's collapse. It ignited the flame that slowly burns until it consumes all that our civilization takes for granted and cherishes. The little bites of information keep us on our toes. …

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Eckerd College's International Cinema Series announces fall lineup

Eckerd College's Intl. Cinema Series begins Sept. 11 with 'When Marnie Was There'

nababa.deviantart.com

Eckerd College's Intl. Cinema Series begins Sept. 11 with 'When Marnie Was There'

One of the relatively hidden gems of Tampa Bay's movie culture is the International Cinema Series conducted at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg.

Founded by professor Nathan Andersen, the series goes beyond art house and multiplex programming to bring local cineastes some of the world's most obscure yet important independent cinema. This year's lineup is no exception.

Ten films are scheduled for the fall season, from Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Estonia, Canada, Spain, China and India.

"There’s something for everyone in this lineup and it’s incredibly diverse,” Andersen said in a news release. "The films are global in scope and ambitious...

"Some of the films are very straightforward and compelling stories of people in different places. Others, like Guy Maddin’s Forbidden Room or Peter Greenaway’s Eisenstein in Guanajuato, really attempt to push the boundaries of what can be done artistically in cinema.”

Admission is free to all screenings, which begin at 7 p.m. in the Dan and Mary Miller Auditorium on the Eckerd campus. (Andersen likes pointing out that this is the only theater located in south St. Petersburg.)

This season's lineup includes: …

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Shows you should be watching: 'Hindsight' on VH1

Don't you just want to be besties with these two? Laugh with Becca and Lolly on VH1's rom-com "Hindsight."

VH1

Don't you just want to be besties with these two? Laugh with Becca and Lolly on VH1's rom-com "Hindsight."

We've all thought about second chances. What if I could start over? What if I didn't get that perm? What if I married Rob Lowe?

VH1's adorable new show Hindsight is a romantic comedy wrapped in the best '90s nostalgia and explores those questions. (We'd probably still get that perm, though.)

Hindsight stars Laura Ramsey as Becca. She's 40 and about to embark on a second marriage with her childhood friend; however, she isn't feeling that spark in her relationship or about her life. Present day, on the eve of the wedding she is thrown back to 1995. She wakes up on the morning of her first wedding to Sean, a struggling artist who, despite his sexy ponytail and bedroom talents, never fully satisfied her. In the first episode, she decides this is her chance to make different choices and fully embrace a new life. And over the rest of the nine episodes, Becca realizes how those decisions not only affect her life, but her friends' and family's as well.

This time travel premise is nothing new, I know. But somehow this show feels fresh. And oh-so-loveable. …

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Get ready: 'Fear The Walking Dead' promises chaos, tension and just enough bite

Not exactly what you want to see first thing in the morning.

AMC

Not exactly what you want to see first thing in the morning.

We are just two days away from the premiere of AMC's zombie apocalypse spinoff show Fear the Walking Dead.

via GIPHY


Set at the very beginning of the outbreak of the virus (microbe? mutation?), Fear gives us the full tour of society's breakdown once the sick die then come back to snack on the living.

Though this is the universe that encompasses The Walking Dead, Fear gives us a fresh landscape and characters not based on Robert Kirkman's famous comics. Instead of the small towns and backwoods of Georgia, we get the bustling urban jungle of Los Angeles. The characters in Dead flee overrun cities for the just-a-bit-safer wooded areas. Fear's trailer shows the focus family split and struggling to find a safe place to bunker down inside the quickly deteriorating city.

Only time will tell if Los Angeles becomes the next post-apocalyptic Atlanta.

via GIPHY …

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Important theories about Saturday's Unauthorized Full House Story on Lifetime

(L to R) Blaise Todd (Michelle Tanner), Shelby Armstrong (DJ Tanner), Justin Mader (Joey Gladstone), Garrett Brawith (Danny Tanner), Justin Gaston (Jesse Katsopolis) and Dakota Guppy (Stephanie Tanner) star in the all-new Lifetime movie, The Unauthorized Full House Story, premiering Saturday at 8 p.m.

Lifetime

(L to R) Blaise Todd (Michelle Tanner), Shelby Armstrong (DJ Tanner), Justin Mader (Joey Gladstone), Garrett Brawith (Danny Tanner), Justin Gaston (Jesse Katsopolis) and Dakota Guppy (Stephanie Tanner) star in the all-new Lifetime movie, The Unauthorized Full House Story, premiering Saturday at 8 p.m.

Do you recognize the people in this photo?

Neither does anyone. These actors hoping to hang onto their SAG cards one more week are portraying the venerable Tanner family on Saturday's The Unauthorized Full House Story on Lifetime. Seeing as how Full House was the primary entertainment source of my formative years, and that Lifetime movies are the primary entertinment source of my adulting years, I'm dipping into the sports cliches and "ready to get out there and leave it all out on the floor, give it 110 percent, earn those goals I don't deserve." …

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Regal Cinemas begins bag checks for security (and snacks?)

Times files

Regal Cinemas, by far North America's largest theater chain, is now bolstering security -- and perhaps its coffers -- with bag and backpack searches at entrances to its locations.

A smart move, considering this summer's pair of deadly events at theaters (not Regal's) in Louisiana and Tennessee, in addition to the recent sentencing to life in prison of a man responsible for mass murder in a Colorado multiplex in 2012.

But is it enough? And what other contraband besides weapons are theaters attempting to sniff out?

Moviegoers are now greeted in Regal lobbies by signs informing them of the checks, with admonitions that weapons, food and drink aren't allowed to be carried into theaters. It isn't hard to imagine that more canned soft drinks, chicken strips and candy will be discovered during these checks than guns or knives. Locally, our Regal theaters are in Pinellas Park, Largo and Citrus Park. 

A few Americans may be killers, but most are just snack smugglers. …

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Dolly Parton's TV movie airs Dec. 10, joining holiday movie cheesefest

Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland, who will play the mom in the film; producer and country queen Dolly Parton, on whom the movie is based; and child actor Alyvia Lind, who will play young Dolly.

Getty Images

Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland, who will play the mom in the film; producer and country queen Dolly Parton, on whom the movie is based; and child actor Alyvia Lind, who will play young Dolly.

Country music has been a bit of a sadfest lately, what with the split of our dear Blake and Miranda and Reba and her manager husband. Cue Dolly Parton saving the day with some holiday cheese.

NBC announced more details recently about its upcoming Dolly Parton movie called Coat of Many Colors, which apparently is "neither a biopic nor musical about Dolly's whole life and performing career but rather a family-oriented faith-based story about the incidents in her and her family's life around the time she was 9 years old."

But wait. It gets better:

"This once-in-a-lifetime movie special takes place inside the tight-knit Parton family as they struggle to overcome devastating tragedy and discover the healing power of love, faith, and a raggedy patchwork coat that helped make Parton who she is today."

Did we just step out of network primetime and into a Lifetime movie here? Or perhaps more faith-based Hallmark? This sounds just like the sort of fiction-but-call-it-based-in-fact goop you can find on those sort of networks at any given moment.

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Screen siren Sophia Loren coming to Ruth Eckerd Hall

Sophia Loren, the face that launched 1,000 dreams

latimes.com

Sophia Loren, the face that launched 1,000 dreams

No, this isn't an April Fool's joke. Just one of those once in a lifetime opportunities one never imagined, happening on April 1, 2016.

Academy Award winner Sophia Loren, 80, one of the most celebrated beauties of the 20th century, is coming to Ruth Eckerd Hall for a candid conversation about her long, storied career.

Loren could fill the evening discussing her leading men alone, a list including such luminaries as Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra, Marlon Brando, Gregory Peck, Jack Lemmon and Paul Newman. Or perhaps her historic Oscar best actress Oscar for Two Women, becoming the first winner in a foreign language role.

Loren also clamed a record six David Di Donatello Awards for best actress, a Grammy and five Golden Globes, as well as an honorary Academy Award for her indelible contributions to world cinema. In 1995, she received the academy's Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievment.

Tickets ($95, $75, $55) for what promises to be an extraordinary event go on sale Saturday, Aug. 22 at 12 noon.

Full disclosure: I'll be conducting the onstage Q&A with Loren and, yes, I'm pinching myself.

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