Michael C. Hall won a Golden Globe for his portrayal of "Dexter" on the fourth season of the Showtime series of the same name.
It seemed impossible that the series about a serial killer who works for the Miami cops as a crime-scene investigator who only targets serial killers could get any more tense, but the fact that he got married to innocent Rita (Julie Benz) and became a father only upped the stakes. Keith Carradine returned for the season as a special FBI agent on the hunt for a murderer known as the "Trinity Killer," played by John Lithgow.
Dexter eventually discovers the real identity of Trinity and the season becomes a cat-and-mouse game between the two that revolves around weird family dynamics, as you'd expect.
The show, which will return for a fifth season in the fall, is something of an acquired taste. A bit twisted, for sure, but it is tautly drawn and interesting psychologically. Hall, who also starred in another series with a morbid side, "Six Feet Under," is nominated for an Emmy, and truly deserves his accolades. Shortly after season four of "Dexter" ended it was revealed that Hall was battling Hodgkin's lymphoma and that the disease is in remission. He accepted his Golden Globe in January wearing a cap to cover his bald head, and he appeared at the recent Television Critics Association meeting. It will be good to see him back on the screen.
Miley takes on big screen
The 17-year-old pop sensation clearly wanted to take a more grown-up approach after being known as Disney Channel's kid star Hannah Montana for five years (and counting).
In "The Last Song," directed by Briton Julie Anne Robinson, Cyrus plays an 18-year old who has been sent to live with her composer father (Greg Kinnear), whom she resents for leaving her mother.
A good girl but hardly Hannah, Ronnie has some rough edges and, as a New Yorker, isn't happy about living in a sleepy Southern beach town. She is, of course, musically talented, but as a pianist. So you'll only hear the teen idol's vocals on two songs that play on the soundtrack and in the movie only once - when she sings along to Maroon 5's "She Will Be Loved" on the radio while riding in a car.
Cyrus has plenty of energy and scrappiness but has a ways to go as an actress. Her personality is at the heart of her appeal, but success on the big screen requires more subtlety, nuance and depth of emotion than she demonstrates. But even if Cyrus was the second coming of Meryl Streep, any movie based on a Sparks script is going to turn on sap.
"The Last Song" isn't an unpleasant experience, though, just kind of sleepy.
Emmy-nominated Claire Danes is superb in the HBO film "Temple Grandin." It's the true story of an autistic savant who overcame her disorder and created a more humane way to handle cattle on their way to slaughterhouses.
The film, directed by Mick Jackson ("The Bodyguard," "Tuesdays With Morrie"), focuses on Grandin's life in the 1960s and '70s when she was a student and young adult and her autism was more pronounced, making her withdrawn and socially inept on one hand, and almost pushy on the other.
It is an unsentimental portrait of Grandin, who - now in her 60s - is an animal sciences professor at Colorado State University and wrote the book "Thinking in Pictures: My Life With Autism," on which the film is based.
Until you see her, it might be hard to imagine the lovely Danes as the awkward, often too-loud Grandin, but the actress has wonderfully inhabited the role, capturing the character as she grows in social skills and awareness.
"Temple Grandin" could have easily been turned into one of those weepy TV movies. But, like its subject, it's tough and ultimately triumphant.
Keep in mind
Originally released in 1959, "Black Orpheus" won both the Palme d'Or at Cannes and the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. Directed by Frenchman Marcel Camus (existentialist Albert's brother), the film is a colorful, musical retelling of the Orpheus legend set during Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. The new remastered version from Criterion includes archival interviews with director Camus and lead actress Marpessa Dawn, who played Eurydice; a documentary about the film's cultural and musical roots and its resonance in Brazil today; interviews with Brazilian cinema scholar Robert Stam, jazz historian Gary Giddins and Brazilian author Ruy Castro; and a booklet featuring an essay by film critic Michael Atkinson.
"The City of Your Final Destination," from James Ivory, is the kind of serious and sedate filmmaking we've come to expect from the director.
It's the story of a grad student (Omar Metwally) who shows up at the estate in Uruguay of a late, famed novelist. His goal is to convince the writer's relatives to allow him to write an authorized biography of the novelist. There is a lot of literary and philosophical talk throughout the film. Anthony Hopkins, Charlotte Gainsbourg and especially Laura Linney, as the writer's widow, give fine performances, but there is little fire in the film.
There is an expanded edition of the fine documentary miniseries "Simon Schama: A History of Britain," which is joined by "History of Scotland."
Fans of the campy horror film "The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra" will want to check out "The Lost Skeleton Returns Again" and "Dark and Stormy Night."