Tag Archives: Damon Lindelof

“The Leftovers” first trailer – welcome back to TV Damon Lindelof

The Entertainment Weekly Fall Television Preview issue has traditionally been one of my most anticipated magazines of the year (since 1996!). Although increasingly less potent in recent years now that television has morphed into a twelve month release schedule, when my favorite television show debuted in 2004, it was everything.

There were many reasons why I chose to add Lost to my VCR recording schedule (it wasn’t that long ago) as informed by EW’s coverage – I had been an avid fan of one of JJ Abrams other properties (Alias) and was excited to see Terry O’Quinn on another series, I had a fondness for Matthew Fox from his Party of Five days, I had a fondness for Harold Perrineau from his Oz days, I loved the “plane crash on a deserted island” concept – but not one reason involved an excitement for a then relatively unknown (unless Nash Bridges was your jam) writer/producer named Damon Lindelof. This was soon to change. With JJ Abrams quickly venturing into other lens flaring projects, Lost quickly became the adored creative child of Lindelof and showrunner partner Carlton Cuse. Although not a flawless experience by any means (the entire Tailies subplot ended up being irrelevant, time travel gave the audience more headaches and nosebleeds than the characters experiencing it, that ending), Lost remains the most prolific and meaningful television journey I have taken to date and I have Lindelof and Cuse (with some Jack Bender stalwart direction) to thank for being such passionate, compassionate, and trusted storytellers.

After Lost closed its tale in 2010, Lindelof and Cuse both took a necessary break from television. Cuse came back last winter with Bates Motel (a show that has been sitting in my DVR queues for far too long – according to most critics, this is my loss). Lindelof dabbled with the screenwriting of classic properties (Prometheus and Star Trek Into Darkness) and of properties that no one was pining for (Cowboys and Aliens…oops.). At long last this summer, Lindelof returns to the medium that made him a star as the co-showrunner of “a new dramatic series” from HBO, The Leftovers. Based on Tom Perotta’s book (Perotta will be the other showrunner) about a mysterious rapture-like event and how it affects the suburban community of Mapleton. If Bo knows and TNT knows drama, HBO knows (among other things) how to craft a scintillating trailer. Behold the first full-length trailer for The Leftovers (debuting June 29):

There is just so much to like…

  • The use of James Blake’s soaring anthem “Retrograde” is tremendous.

  • Justin Theroux (Mr. Jennifer Aniston) has a Matthew Fox-like gravitas (before he got really angry and strange tattoos on Lost) as the lead character policeman guy.

  • The haunting beginning scene involving the ramifications of people disappearances (especially that beautiful baby Sam) feels eerily like the Lost pilot (this is a great thing).

  • I have never been one to judge, but Amy Brenneman’s white-dressed group plays like a neo-Others.

  • Other pilots “directed by Peter Berg?” Friday Night Lights.

  • Liv Tyler is back on television (it has been a long time since Aerosmith’s “Crazy” music video).

  • HBO allows for more realistic content (pay cable!) and if the trailer is any indication, Mr. Lindelof is taking appreciated advantage.

  • Shows are not often built on both a central mystery and a compelling ensemble of characters (they do not often get both right). The enthralling trailer seems to succeed at both.

Game of Thrones is holding strongly to my “Lost Favorite Current Television Show Championship Belt,” but the time has come for some competition. May it be The Leftovers. In Damon Lindelof we trust.


When I see a movie in theaters, I will write the five things you need to know about it.

5 Things You Need to Know About… 


1. World War Z is a scintillating and exhilarating professional summer movie experience.  In what appears to be an entire world infected by a nasty zombie bite, Brad Pitt’s character of Gerry Lane declares that “movement is life” and Marc Forster delivers a picture that embodies such a credo.  World War Z is paced like an Olympic relay race with Brad Pitt as the baton passed from country to country on a hunt for potential crumbs of an outbreak containment solution.  Moments to take a breath or to reflect on the magnitude of what has transpired are fleeting and infrequent – any stall could mean death in the world of the play or in the momentum of the movie – but through the lens of the delicate, but strong performance from Pitt, we are able to tune out the wild screams of the pursuant undead and focus on the task at hand.

2. Speaking of Brad Pitt, the power of his obvious visual charisma has never been questioned, but some of his past performances haven’t exactly jumped out of the screen.  Here, he wears his middle age with a wisdom and stature that perhaps he is finally earned. Screenwriters are smart to not cloud his character with too muddy a backstory (there is no clichéd drinking problem or past infidelity). We are given permission to see him affectionately as simply a dad trying to finish a job so he can get back to his family.  He is honorable, courageous, and real.  In a movie centered on the pace and movement of the plot, the stillness and contemplative experience we have with Pitt’s Gerry throughout is what takes World War Z to that next level.

3. In a Zombie nation comparison, World War Z encompasses everything that was successful about the Frank Darabont-led first season of The Walking Dead while avoiding all of the pitfalls and horrible characters that have poisoned the waters of subsequent seasons of the AMC mega-hit.  In World War Z, we do not want moms to die because they are too annoying (Mireille Enos unexpectedly delivers as Brad Pitt’s wife – for anyone who has spent any time in the rain-addled depression pit that is her performance on The Killing – this is a major surprise).  In World War Z, child characters are endearing and sometimes even useful.  In World War Z, we appreciate that it seems like there are people out there who are trying to take meaningful action against the world zombification. In World War Z, there is no governor and there are no governor and Rick standoffs (praise!).  Pitt and other Z characters get that “movement is life” and would never consider hiding out in a prison or a farm for months at a time.  Finally, and perhaps most importantly, World War Z feels like the actual world we are living in in the way people talk, communicate, and feel.  It is a credible vision of the “what if” of such an outbreak and the audience is subsequently riveted from the opening credits.

4. There is an important uncredited performance in the movie (even “uncredited” in the way the camera and actor try not to focus on each other), but, as fan of the actor and the iconic role he recently played, his appearance provides some solace in a most chaotic of worlds, especially when a plane crashes into the climax of the movie.  (If you want to find out about what actually happened with it, read here.  Despite a substantially reduced role, I appreciated his presence.)

5. World War Z is a riveting ride of a summer movie whose production troubles (rewrites, financing) yielded a most satisfying final product.  Cradling the storytelling genre of the moment with a potency and execution yet to be achieved anywhere else on screen or on television, this Brad Pitt star vehicle is very much worth the price of admission.


5 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW: Star Trek Into Darkness

When I see a movie in theaters, I will write the five things you need to know about it.

5 Things You Need to Know About… 


  1. Outside the context of the expansive (although not always universally inclusive) Star Trek universe and its many iterations as originally and thoughtfully conceived by Master Gene Roddenberry, Star Trek Into Darkness is a well-paced, well-performed, occasionally compelling, but often redundant summer action movie.  The J.J. Abrams brain trust (Damon Lindelof, Alex Kurtzman, Robert Orci) are on their game – the storytelling is considerate in conception (though not always in execution), lens flaring occurs, and Michael Giacchino does his thing scoring the action – but like the worst moments of Lost or of last summer’s Prometheus (also scribed by Lindelof), there is too much focus devoted to pleasing the fanboys and girls and too little focus to making the best possible stand alone movie.

  2. Inside the Stark Trek world of TV shows, movies, books, and dress-up conventions (I have been but a casual peruser over the years, not a true devotee), Star Trek Into Darkness is an average and uneventful Star Trek iteration that relies too heavily on the mostly empty allusions (Was a repeat of this really necessary?) to the past (but ironically future events in the timeline of the Kirk, Spock, and Co. narrative).  Yes, I enjoyed Karl Urban’s borderline caricature portrayal of Bones, but Doctor, please treat the screenplay’s a dozen too many uses of “Damn it, Jim!”  You will get more out of Star Trek Into Darkness if you have trekked a few times before, but if you have trekked before, you will be disappointed that you didn’t get more out of this installment.

  3. Spock is just an outstanding character and Zachary Quinto could not execute a better performance.  It is not easy to consistently nail the stoicism of this largely emotionless Vulcan yet simultaneously instill so much humanity.  Quinto manages to do both with an apparent ease.  I do wish there was more Spock speaking, considering, and deciding and less Spock fighting in entirely unnecessary climactic battles set against entirely unnecessary large set pieces.

  4. It is obvious that Benedict Cumberbatch (delightful and brilliant as ever) plays the bad guy in this movie, but his character’s true identity had been cloaked in old school, spoiler-alert proof M. Night Shyamalan secrecy during the endless prerelease press junket.  If you haven’t already heard who the artist sometimes known as Sherlock’s alter ego really is, let me tell you a secret: when you find out, it really doesn’t matter (and maybe it matters even less for devoted fanboys when all is said and done).  The (we were made to think) big reveal is already listed correctly on the IMDB character page.  (As a point of comparison, IMDB still lists Kevin Spacey as portraying Roger ‘Virbil’ Kint in The Usual Suspects.)  According to the Final Frontiersmen who will actually care about the true identity of John Harrison (as he is introduced when the movie begins), the Cumberbatch character in this movie was more interesting and compelling enough before the reveal and did not need to become mired in an ultimate and inevitable lackluster and unmaintainable comparison to an original version.  This part is another win for Cumberbatch, but his character’s inclusion is likely a slight loss for Stark Trek Into Darkness.

  5. To both the strange world of its most passionate fans and to the new world of the audience on a summer blockbuster viewing voyage, Star Trek Into Darkness does not boldly go where no movie has gone before.  Although it may entertain through a modern action movie lens flare, it does not have a deeper impact.