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Overrated/Underrated: The toxic cynicism of 'House of Cards,' and a requiem for FilmStruck

Overrated/Underrated: The toxic cynicism of 'House of Cards,' and a requiem for FilmStruck
Robin Wright whose character has risen to new heights in the final season of "House of Cards." (David Giesbrecht / Netflix)

UNDERRATED

FilmStruck: Another casualty of corporate mergers that’s also seen the death of oddball comedy outlet Super Deluxe, this service teamed with the Criterion Collection to provide a valuable resource for film fans who wanted more than whatever archived leftovers lay among Netflix’s content dumps. While there’s always hope that being an on-demand source for classic and adventurous cinema will prove lucrative enough for some other service (or this one, as online petitions circulate), let us consider FilmStruck as another lesson that there is no substitute for owning media you love most. Let the Blu-ray revival begin.

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Low’s ‘Double Negative’: Halloween and scary season may be behind us, but this album from this Minnesota indie duo will remain haunting as the autumn nights grow longer. Composed of husband and wife Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker, Low has long specialized in a deliberately paced, spacious brand of indie rock occasionally dubbed “slowcore,” but here the two have channeled their frustrations with the current social climate into a clattering, bleak mix of synthesizer drones, dissonant echoes and ghostly melodies that sounds like nothing they’ve done before. Anxiety has rarely been set to music with such enchanting results.

OVERRATED

‘House of Cards’: Although this series was the first stop for Netflix on its drive to dominate streaming content, the best that can be said for its brand of bleak political intrigue is that it finally dispatched another loathsome TV antihero in Frank Underwood while elevating his spouse in Robin Wright. But long before the allegations against Kevin Spacey ended his run, the show existed as a grim exercise in confirming the worst fears about government with its every Machiavellian twist. Recent history has proved the show was almost optimistic in some respects, but its legacy of feeding into real-world cynicism and apathy will be remembered far longer.

Rick’s sendoff on ‘The Walking Dead’: Based on members’ appearances at Comic-Con, the cast of AMC’s blockbuster zombie series is a tight-knit group, which may be why Rick’s much-hyped final episode for Andrew Lincoln’s character was less of a true, emotion-wringing farewell and more of another overlong buildup to a sudden mysterious reprieve and, crucially, future movie-length spinoffs. Although this action drama has always played to its advantage, the idea that “no one was safe” amid its endless supply of gore and death, its preference for stringing its viewers along is a narrative device that feels due to be killed off in its own right.

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