James Gandolfini: How He Compared to Tony Soprano

For a murderous thug who made his living through extortion, theft and corruption, Tony Soprano was a remarkably easy guy to sympathize with. We felt the pain of his unhappy upbringing, of his frustrations with his coworkers, of the continual pressure to keep earning enough to afford the affluent suburban lifestyle to which his family had become accustomed. We were touched by his affection for the wild ducks that congregated in his swimming pool. When he went to a psychiatrist …

HBO’s ‘Love, Marilyn’ Adds Little to the Legend

“The Ancient Greeks had Oedipus. We have Marilyn.” At first, that statement made by a Marilyn Monroe biographer at the start of the HBO documentary Love, Marilyn, sounds outlandish. But by the end of the mostly effective (if a tad too long) movie, which premieres Monday at 9 p.m., the comparison to Greek tragedy doesn’t seem so far-fetched. After all, the Marilyn Monroe story long ago achieved mythical status. In the more than half century since her death in a …

10 Things to Know Before Watching Michael Douglas Dazzle in ‘Behind the Candelabra’

At last – Michael Douglas as Liberace, on HBO. The highly touted, much-anticipated Behind the Candelabra, from filmmaker Steven Soderbergh, with Matt Damon as Liberace’s 40-years-younger lover, Scott Thorson, is clearly the TV event of the week.  In fact, it will air for weeks and be available on demand. Here are 10 points to enhance your viewing experience. 1.  Emmy time! Critics are almost universally calling Douglas’ performance a tour de force. Kudos are being heaped upon Damon as well, …

‘Game of Thrones’, a Love-Hate Affair

Game of Thrones, Season 3, is seven days away, and already you can hear it coming.  The HBO fantasy drama series is at the center of a pop culture tornado roaring our way, swirling with action figures and bobblehead dolls, crowds of fans and photographers at its Grauman’s Chinese Theatre premiere, a couple of TV Critics awards, a Peabody and more.  Distinctively, G of  T can claim both a collection of prestigious honors and a worldwide cult following in 70+ countries.  …

HBO’s Girls: The Millennial Dating Scene

The Sunday Styles section of yesterday’s New York Times featured an article entitled, “The End of Courtship,” about the complicated dating scene that millennials are navigating as they struggle to find a romantic partner. Last night’s first episode of the second season of Girls touched on much the same theme.  Both left me wondering how much different dating really is today from when we were that age. Ever since it debuted last year, I’ve been a huge fan of the HBO …

Laura Dern’s ‘Enlightened’ Takes on Goliath in Season 2

If you have yet to sample Laura Dern’s “Enlightened,” now would be a good time, as the dark comedic poem of a series embarks on its second season tonight (1/13) – with the much-talked-about “Girls” as its lead-in – and its Season 1 DVD is newly in release. Season 1 saw Dern’s self-destructive corporate executive, Amy Jellicoe, returning from a breakdown and rehab a new – enlightened – woman on a mission the change the world.  Her mission was so vastly …