Zandalee (1991) Review: A Nic Cage performance that gives me hope for the future

January 13, 2014 § 2 Comments

My last post on this site, besides the one telling you that I was coming back to this site, had to do with being 30 (I’ve since turned 31, though I still tell people I’m 30 — it’s just easier?) and how I was looking forward to the decade ahead of me. I wouldn’t say that my life has turned to shit since then and I wouldn’t say it’s blossomed into fairy dust either. It’s just been an existence – my own existence – and it’s given me a lot of time to think.

To think my own thoughts, to live inside of my own head, to be the only one to answer my own questions (the ones that Google or Wikipedia can’t answer) and to continue to exist. I moved out of a two-bedroom apartment that I shared with a roommate and for the last four months have been living alone in a small (but comfy) studio apartment. So by remaining single I haven’t only gotten less alone, I’ve gotten lonelier. To fill the void of that loneliness I eventually found my inevitable destination, the place that I’ve come to expect all people would turn to after a few months of solitary confinement, is of course the life work of one Nicolas Cage.

The preeminent Hollywood acting figure of the last 30 years.

I chose my words as carefully as I could there, because Cage is so many things all at once. At one time and at no time, Cage can be Bruce Willis or Tom Hanks or Joaquin Phoenix or (and this is probably the most important distinction) Steven Seagal. Some of the best movies I have ever seen star Nic Cage and some of the worst (read: best) movies I’ve ever seen star Nic Cage.

So I decided to fill the void of my heart with the volume of work produced by Cage. As I have done with sports for many years, I turned Nic Cage into an Excel spreadsheet that I could then look at, examine, study, and with any luck, understand. Imdb listed just over 60 credits to his name that have been released and are available for public consumption, and I have seen less than half of them. Most of which were in the latter part of his career, almost completing ignoring how Cage trudged through Hollywood for his first 10 years of “acting” (those quotes are up for debate, as is so much that is connected to Cage) until finally becoming a bankable box office star with The Rock in 1996.

Was “early Cage” going to be the same as “early Metallica” or “early Saved by the Bell,” in that it would the only good, pure, true form we see of an artist before they are “ruined” by the power of fame and money? Or, did Cage only improve over time, finally reaching his pinnacle of acting success with Adaptation in 2002? Or is Cage’s entire career linear — just a mish-mash of the bad-good-terrible-great-ohmygodwhatshappening-awesome-aNationalTreasureMovie?

When I look at Cage’s career as a whole, I think about my own career:

“What should accomplish in my first 10 years as a writer?”

“When does my career as a writer actually start? From the time I started writing or from the time I started to get paid for writing or from the time anyone noticed that I was being paid to write?”

“Can I excuse past actions under the claim that “I was young and I didn’t know what I was doing!” or should I take more risk and more chances because I can make such excuses? And would that attitude not allow me to be more free than someone who truly relied on their craft as financial support?”

“Who the fuck is Nic Cage’s agent?”

And not only thinking in terms of career, but in life. I’m 31 now and I look around and I don’t see my friends as having accomplished a lot either. I only know of one who is in an actual relationship. All of us are still working for “the man” and all of our dreams still exist as nothing more than that; dreams.

Nic Cage was born on January 7, 1964 in Long Beach, California. He turned 31 in 1995, before winning an Oscar for Leaving Las Vegas, before his “big three” movie deal that catapulted him to action movie stardom (The Rock, Con-Air, Face/Off), before the National Treasure franchise, but not long before. By then he was a movie star, a top-billed actor you could sell as the lead in It Could Happen To You, but he hadn’t quite reached the pinnacle of success he had strived for.

But he was close.

I am now 31 and living in Long Beach, California. I have not quite reached the pinnacle of success I have strived for. I am not even entirely sure if “strived” is a proper past tense of “strive” because the editor gives me a squiggly red line but Merriam-Webster says it’s okay, though I still have doubts. Am I on the precipice of my Leaving Las Vegas or am I on the edge of my Kiss of Death? Have I even reached my Fast Times at Ridgemont High?

In 1991, Cage made a movie called Zandalee. It was directed by Sam Pillsbury, who’s biggest credit is Free Willy 3: The Rescue and who’s most recent credit is National Lampoon Presents: Surf Party (2013) starring Matthew Lillard. It was written by Mari Kornhauser, the same woman that would go on to write F.T.W. in 1994. (Amazingly ahead of it’s time if only the FTW didn’t stand for Frank T. Wells, the title character played by Mickey Rourke.)

For what Zandalee lacked in directing and writing talent, it made up for in star power.

The cast didn’t only include Cage, but other well-known actors such as Joe Pantoliano, Steve Buscemi, Marisa Tomei, Ian Abercrombie, and Viveca Lindfors. Besides actors, it also had Judge Reinhold, Aaron Neville, and a then-unknown and still-unknown Erika Anderson, who played the title role of Zandalee. (FYI: Zandalee is a name.)

Zandalee is available on YouTube with over 18,000 views, and the description of the video is only a biographical paragraph on Anderson, leading at least one writer (me) to believe that Anderson herself (or a family member) was the one to make Zandalee available for free on the internet. Which of course was stopped by nobody for copyright infringement, because who really cares?

Nobody even cared in 1991 when the film was instead slated as a direct-to-VHS American premier rather than a theatrical release, presumably because someone at the studio watched it.

While I was nervous when I began to watch Zandalee, worried that it would simply be bad rather than laughably-bad, I was dead wrong. Despite some boring bits here and there, I quickly realized that even in 1991, Nic Cage was Nic Cage. His entrance into the movie (a bachelor party scene with strippers quickly cuts to a hallway and a silhouette of Cage leaning over, putting his hands on his knees, and spinning his head around like he’s at a rock concert) immediately released any tension I was feeling about the film and allowed me to enjoy the next hour and a half.

Cage’s brilliant insanity continued throughout the movie as he started a love affair with Zandalee, the wife of Reinhold’s character, from screaming “Fuck! Shit! STRIKE (rips shirt off) ME DOWN!” in a church, to covering himself in black paint as he has a mental breakdown in the final 15 minutes of the movie. The bonus of seeing a young Buscemi (when he kind of looked like a normal guy) to seeing nudity on YouTube (there are minute marks in the comment section that I thought correlated to insane Cage moments but instead pointed to Anderson-is-naked moments) and seeing Joey Pants in a dress (he plays a cross-dresser in the movie for no good reason) to a cameo by Tomei and Reinhold just trying his hardest to be an actor (with the worst Southern accent I’ve probably ever heard) make Zandalee as entertaining as I’ve come to expect any movie starring Cage.

I now carry that hope into my own life, as a person floundering through his own existence. At a time when I don’t know where I am at in both my personal life and my career. I don’t know if my “Zandalee” is in my past or my future, but I know that pleasant surprises exist all over a person’s timeline.

You just have to be willing to look.

Zandalee Stats:

- Cage’s 15th feature film

- Runtime, 100 min

- 4.3 on Imdb, making it tied (with Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance) for his 3rd-worst rated film.

- No U.S. box office

- Budget unknown

- Cage hair: incredibly fake looking mullet, three muskateers-style goatee. In other words: top notch.

Zandalee is available on YouTube for whenever you want to watch it. I believe that the 18,000 views on YouTube would be a fair estimate of the total number of people to actually see this film for what it’s worth.

Rating: 3.5 out of 4 Nic Cage’s.

 

Dexter’s final victim: Viewers like you!

September 25, 2013 § 2 Comments

If y’all are trying to avoid Dexter spoilers, why would you possibly read further?

I have been a fan of horror and the macabre for as long as I can remember. It probably started somewhere along the road of coming across some horror film on HBO when I was far too young, or possibly finding out that there were Scary Stories that you could tell in the dark, but that was “my thing.” (That and food, I guess.) But I’ve always had a healthy obsession with death, serial killers, and movies about death and serial killers.

What do you MEAN that’s not “healthy”?!?

So when Dexter came along in 2006, I was hooked. Finally a television show that would focus on the killer as the hero. Dexter was a show (or book, depending on if you read or not) that actually found a way to take someone like Ted Bundy and have millions of people sympathize with him! (Or maybe millions of people were already sympathizing with Ted Bundy but Dexter took away the guilt?!) No, I think it was just a matter of people having a fascination with what made a serial killer “tick” and Dexter was a likable character that also happened to have a need to kill people and that need was harnessed in the best way possible — killing people like him. Somehow I found Michael C. Hall much more relatable and likable as a killer as I found him in Six Feet Under.

(Please note: This article is not a “confession” of any sort. To being a closet serial killer.)

On October 1, 2006, the pilot episode ‘Dexter’ told the story of a Miami blood splatter analyst that was adopted as a young child and taught by his police officer father how to properly kill and get away with it because his dad knew that it was the only way to protect his son. He would help develop the perfect machine for getting people like Dexter off of the street, people that killed innocents because it was something innate. Something they couldn’t help. I suppose that Harry Morgan watched Halloween a bunch and figured that even if he sent Dexter to a mental institute, he would eventually escape when he was 18 with super-human strength and kill a bunch of babysitters.

Instead, he’ll kill the babysitter killers. Of which, in the universe of Dexter, there must be millions. According to the Dexter wiki site, he may have killed at least 134 people. And that’s pretty much only in the Miami metro area. Just imagine how many serial killers that would make in the continental United States alone! But aside from the obvious insanity of some of what went on in Dexter, the first season could be considered something special, something different than other shows, perhaps one of the best debut seasons in television history.

Dexter was dead inside, but he had a fake girlfriend Rita. A tortured soul, a battered single mother that would accept Dexter into her life because he was gentle and didn’t want to have sex with people, something that terrified both of them. Dexter needed Rita because it made him look normal, all part of Harry’s Code. In the weirdest way, they were a perfect couple.

His sister Debra was also on the force, working her way up from vice to eventually make detective. All of which gave Dexter special access to the Miami Metro records and information, beyond his own scope and reach as a blood splatter analyst. Deb kept – fucksuckity bitchasscockalekee turnip tits – Dexter grounded. She was as close as he could ever get to loving someone and caring about whether they lived or died. Even if she was an annoying as hell character and the worst cop to ever be on TV and Ice-T is a cop on TV.

His father Harry died long before the pilot episode yet made an appearance for the whole series, playing the part of Dexter’s conscience and a reminder of right-and-wrong as he went about fighting every natural urge he had in order to follow the Code. Or maybe Harry really was a ghost, there’s no way to tell, really. This is the show Dexter after all. Wonderfully charming in it’s originality as well as it’s penchant for going completely off of the rails. Not that the show ever went “Urkel now has a teleportation device” off-the-rails, but it would get rather ridiculous at times.

“How will Dexter get out of this jam!? Find out next week!”

“Oh, he had the key. Okay, cool.”

And then there was probably the most underrated character of the entire series: Sergeant fucking Doakes. The show would eventually try to replace Doakes with Quinn as “the suspicious cop that’s on to Dexter” but when we found out that Quinn was the most one-dimensional character in the history of anything that’s had characters, he moved on as soon as “Deb brought me coffee? What does that mean? Hey, is this shirt too big?”

Yes. Yes, it is far too big.

But the first season was excellent. The Ice Truck Killer provided the first season arc, the backstory of having a brother and what happened to his mother and finding out that he wasn’t the only person that was born this way, since his brother was the Ice Truck Killer all provided for excellent twists and turns as you really worried about the survival of all the characters. And while I would have been upset at the time, you could have ended the show right there and had nothing short of a 12-episode work of art. Put it on the BBC, and nobody’s complaining then!

Instead, we got a lot more. Way too much more.

The second season was okay. It brought Dexter’s work to light as ‘The Bay Harbor Butcher,’ bringing suspense to every episode was you genuinely worried if Doakes was going to catch him. Up until the moment where he actually did! You had more tension between Rita and Dexter as she suspected he was up to something, and nervous that Rita would have her heart broken again. But then you had Agent Lundy and cucumber sandwiches, a gross relationship between him and Deb (not the age difference, but every relationship that Deb ever got into was gross) and you had Lila, the one girl in Dexter’s life throughout the series that I wanted to die immediately. The only thing that really made the second season memorable was the death of Doakes, and really that could have been the death of the show.

Luckily, the third season was pretty fucking good.

Many will point to the Trinity killer and the work of John Lithgow as the pinnacle of the series, but I much preferred the relationship that Dexter had with Miguel and the belief that maybe Dexter could have a best friend that knew everything about him. As viewers we all knew what Dexter was, but nobody else on the entire show was aware except for Dexter and Harry, and that motherfucker ain’t even alive! Finally we could have someone like Miguel to share this with and he was like the coolest guy ever! When he turned out not to be that cool after all, I was more twisted up inside than when we found out who the Ice Trucker Killer was. The show was on top of the world when Dexter and Miguel turned from friends to mortal enemies, and at this point it seemed it could do no wrong.

Season four ended with the death of Rita, as finally Dexter Morgan had to face the fact that he loved people and that his actions as a serial killer had consequences that could eventually come back to bite the people he loved. He always figured that if somebody was going to go down for what he was doing, whether it be by prison or death, it would be him, but now he knew for sure that the people around him were in danger too. Now he had to make a decision as to how to best protect his son Harrison from also succumbing to the consequences of his actions.

Which also happens to be THE EXACT SAME FUCKING CONCLUSION THAT DEXTER WOULD COME TO FOUR POINTLESS SEASONS LATER.

Each of the first four seasons has some sort of personality, with 1, 3, and 4 really sticking out as three of the best story arcs in cable television history. Here’s how I remember seasons 5, 6, 7, and 8:

Season 5 – Mrs. Ten Things I Hate About You comes to town and kicks it with Dexter for awhile and then they kill the guy from Hackers because he’s like Tony Robbins or something but is really a sexual deviant and then she just leaves at the end of the season and is never heard from again.

Season 6 – What’s Colin Hanks so mad about?

Season 7 – Deb knows! And she can’t tell anyone because she went all “Game of Thrones” and fell in love with her brother :( so the consequences of “What would happen if Deb finds out?” turn out to be: Nothing! Nothing will happen. She’ll be okay with the 100+ victim serial killer. She’s like, lieutenant now, by the way. Biggest surprise of the series: Quinn likes strippers. Dexter gets a new girlfriend and breaks the code by not killer her. Deb is hella jealous.

deb

Season 8 – Fuck. You don’t even wanna know. From Vogel to Elway to the Marshall to Zach to Saxon, it was like a who’s-who list of “who the fuck am I supposed to give a shit about, again?”

Remember when the show introduced “the new Doakes” and then killed him right away? What was his purpose?

Remember when the show brought in “the female Doakes” to compete with Quinn to get a promotion and then got the job… and then completely disappeared?

Why the fuck did Masuka get a daughter? She was going to have some scam or something and then, just sort of, was there. Was that just an excuse to get a new regular that eventually went topless?

The final season of Dexter was obviously the worst, but really this is a show that went downhill steeply after Rita’s death. The first four seasons were still full of terrible detective work, unbelievable scenarios, a myriad of serial killers that have never and will never exist, especially not the extent of having more on every block in America than 7-11′s, but it was held up by interesting characters and suspenseful situations that made you fall in love with Dexter but also the people around him. Eventually the people around him became stupid and shitty and annoying and you just wanted to be the one that wound up on Dexter’s table strapped by plastic wrap.

Finally the writers and producers gave you what you wanted, death, it was just a slow and painful one that last four years too long.

 

 

 

True Blood Season 5 Recap and Review

August 28, 2012 § 3 Comments

One of the issues with starting a series during a vampire craze is that you tend to lose interest from people once the craze dies down.  I guess that’s part of why True Blood has decided to tap into every single other mythical creature known to man, but I feel like many fans of season one are long since gone.

Since I have a disease that won’t allow me to not finish any series that I invest heavily into, I’m still here.  Thankfully, True Blood seems to have recovered from it’s season two disaster and subsequently bad years.  The fifth season got back to actually turning in some surprises and interesting characters, but with Alan Ball leaving as show-runner, will it continue?

The following basically contains season five spoilers only, so keep that in mind.  This is really obvious from the title of the article, right?

At the end of season four, Debbie, Marnie, Jesus, and Tara were all dead.  Steve Newlin and Russell Edgington were apparently not.  I’ve decided that the best way to recap the entire season would to do it by characters and explain how I felt about their storyline.  This is a new thing I am trying out, so bare with me:

Tara

I’ve never really been fond of her character.  She’s pissed off about everything, she had never showed much depth other than that, basically only being used as a device for Snookie or Lafayette when they had their own shit going on.  Finally this season she was given something to do for herself after Pam resurrected her after Snookie told her that she’d do anything if she saved Tara.  Knowing that this would finally give her something to hold over the girl she hates, Pam accepted and turned Tara into a vampire.

At first, I was more annoyed by Tara than ever.  Now she was just a really pissed off vampire and again, it was just about how Snookie and Lafayette felt about this.  Then she went to be with Pam and while I hated it when she became some stripper, by the end of the season I was finally at ease with Tara.  Is it because she and Pam apparently fell in love?  Probably.  But it’s the least annoying relationship that Tara has ever been in and finally gives Pam some substance too.

Lafayette

Alternatively, Lafayette seemed to get lost this year.  His whole thing with Jesus was cool but then after Jesus died, it seems like he didn’t have anything left to do.  Sure, he is now like a full-blown medium, but that only makes him useful for when other people have problems.

Come on, Bitch

By the time he had helped resolved issues for Sookie and Arlene, he was just there to be flamboyant and offer people food and drinks.  Lafayette’s season five story arc: “You gon’ love me forevah’ when you try this, bitch.” or something.  Basically his only purpose this year was really making me want to eat the food he cooked because Alan Ball makes it seem like he’s the best chef and drink mixer in the entire world.  Oh and he can talk to dead people.

Arlene and Terry

Did you ever get the feeling that these two are only in the show because sometimes True Blood needs to fill an extra six minutes per episode?  If there is a single character in the show that I miss, it’s Rene.

No offense to them, they’re likeable, but what’s their point?  They don’t seem to interact with the other characters at all.

Andy Bellefleur and Holly

And this is like another set of “Arlene and Terry” except that Andy does play a part in the rest of the series.  I really like that Andy and Jason have teamed up as partners and everything, but now he’s got four fairy babies?  What?

Andy Bellefleur has become like a mix of Chief Wiggum and Apu.

Bill Compton

Perhaps that most interesting flip in series history was the season five arc of Bill, going from the love of Sookie’s life into Russell Edgington but worse.  The series has hinted for awhile now that Bill had some inklings of going into the authority for good, but we always expected that eventually he would become “Nice guy Bill” and never fall out of love with Sookie.

When Eric and Sookie go to him at the end of the season finale, we all knew what was going to happen: He’d be reasoned with, realize how awful he’s been, throw away the blood, and then something weird would happen like he’d be kidnapped by Lilith or some shit.  Okay, so much for that!

Bill says, “Screw you guys, man.  I’m hella cool now!” drinks all of Lilith’s blood and then dies.  Holy shit, Bill is dead!  Except that after becoming a pool of blood, he regenerates (with special effects apparently done by the SyFy network) and is super evil now or so I assume.  I don’t think that a vampire can regenerate out of his own blood after drinking the blood of evil and be good ever again.  Alan Ball has basically confirmed this.

He’s still Bill, but he’s like “Bad re-incarnated Bill” which is cool.  I did not expect that.  Of course, I’m not really sure how a character like Bill can go from being like the nicest vampire ever to a one-man show of evil and carnage over night, but why ask questions?  This is True Blood, not The Wire.

Roman

I love Christopher Meloni.  I will miss Christopher Meloni.  Five meager little episodes. :(

Salome

Part of what turned Bill, I guess, was the character Salome.  I never really caught on to what she had to do with anything, why she was important, and why I should care about her except that her short love affair with Bill probably played an integral role in turning him evil.

She was otherwise useless until Bill killed her.  Damn, he is evil.  Remember when Eric was evil?  This show just decides, “Whatever, now let’s make this character good and this one bad.”  Breaking Bad has done that, but it made a lot more sense and took a lot more time.  Did you see how even in this paragraph about Salome, it was more about Bill?  Yeah, that’s her character!

Sam and Luna

Have you ever seen two people more naked?  How weird was it to be on that set all season?  How awkward was it for Luna to run around with her breasts hanging out for probably 15 hour days on set?  I guess that they absolutely must have gotten used to it.

I, however, will never get used to seeing Sam Merlotte make out with himself.  Has anyone else noticed that obviously being a shifter is better than being anything else ever and yet everybody else focuses on vampire and werewolves?  I think it’s pretty obvious that once people found out that shifters existed, we wouldn’t care about the vampires.  I would want to get bitten by a shifter, even if it didn’t turn me into a shifter.  That’s how amazing they are.  You can shift into any animal and even other humans.

“Kiss me, Me!”

Sam and Luna are also a “relationship side show” for True Blood, except that they actually do play a part in some of the integral storylines.  They played a part in the “Obama” storyline big time and then even the authority storyline by the end.  Of course, Sam was once one of the central characters of the show and now he’s not a part of Sookie’s life anymore, so they had to figure a way to get him involved in the meat of it all.  But it’s weird because he really is not a part of that vampire stuff at all.  Like, does Sookie even work at Merlotte’s anymore?   DOES SAM!?!?!  HOW ARE THESE PEOPLE MAKING MONEY?!!!

Hoyt

Oh Hoyt.  You’re probably one of my favorite characters, but I was really sad to see you give up on Jason.  I know how hard it is to forgive him for what he did, but life isn’t about just forgetting its about forgiving.  You and Jason are lifelong pals.  Asking Jessica to glamour you was total bullshit.

(Glamouring, in general, is total bullshit.  Vampires should already have taken over the world years ago if glamouring was real.)

His whole season was up-and-down as he tried to get over the whole thing, going from getting sucked on by any vampire he could to being a vampire hate monger that wanted to kill them.  There is only one kind of Hoyt that I like and he was neither of those.  Maybe it’s best to get his memory erased after all.  Can I have my memory erased from seeing Hoyt in makeup?

Hoyt went off to Alaska, only to return next season, I’m sure.  Hopefully without eyeliner.

Jessica

I do love Jessica, much like Hoyt, but she has a hard time loving anyone as a vampire.  She wanted to be friends with Hoyt, which obviously would never work.  She was in lust with Jason and then finally in love.  Jessica needs something to do, so she’ll probably get a progeny next year.

Who will Jessica turn into a vamp?

Criss Angel

I’m assuming this is who that guy was that replaced Eric as Sheriff for like two days.

Alcide

I live in LA and I think I once saw Alcide (Joe Manganiello) at the movie theater.  Often, actors will just look really big on television.  I’m 6’6″.  This guy towers over me.  He is also probably works out.  The internet says that he is 6’5″.  It could have been perspective that made him look so tall.  It could have been entirely someone else.

Oh, what did he do in the show?

Something about a wolf pack.  How many creature politics does this show have to go over?  There is this other wolf and he is a jerk and he gives the pack “V” and then Russell Edgington is somehow involved and also Luna’s daughter is part-wolf so this makes Luna and Sam involved.  He got a girlfriend or something during the season too, but I don’t even know her name.

His dad was played by the T-1000 though, so that’s awesome.

True Blood seems to introduce a lot of characters that just fall in love with Sookie for four episodes and then insists on making them permanent characters with stuff to do.  I’m not so sure I care about the werewolves.  Maybe if they were fighting against someone else, but they only fight with each other and they probably smell bad.

Russell Edgington and Steve Newlin

Well, we knew that Russell would be back because they didn’t actually kill him.  Steve Newlin was a surprise, mostly because I forgot/didn’t care about him, but he actually was a pleasant surprise this year as a gay vampire after being a straight vampire-hater.  His character seems to be a great way for Alan Ball to say what he wants to say about gay-hating pastors that are actually just secretly gay.  When Steve Newlin came out and decided to be who he really is, he was a much better character.

Russell we always knew was gay, but now he was also a much more likeable character.  He no longer seemed to just want to be evil, he just want to have fun.  He wanted to feast and be free and be himself and take over the world or whatever but mostly have sex and drink blood.

“I want to suck your blood, Jason. Among other things.”

He is finally dead for real.  Steve is out there somewhere and will probably come back next year with all of the puppies.

Eric Northman

So now Eric is like the world’s softest dude ever.  He used to be a dick and now he’s soft and squishy and has a lot of sex with his sister.  Nobody loves Sookie anymore, I don’t think.  Also, Eric and Bill were like Superfriends for awhile.  This show has completely turned on it’s head and I still can’t understand how.  It’s just one episode to the next, characters are different.  Maybe subtle things change characters along the way, but seriously… did you see how soft Eric was and how mean Bill was by the end?

I guess Eric was changed in season four.  How am I supposed to remember season four?

So Eric and his sister Nora have crazy amounts of fast-forward sex and then he hates her cause she’s a jerk but then she realizes what a fool she was so they get back to having more sex. Whoopie!

Season five also saw a brief return of Godric, played by Elijah Wood’s doppelganger, who was destroyed by Lilith.  There was also the naked character of Lilith by the way and that was weird and hopefully over.

Otherwise, this was a rather dull season for Eric.  He’s still a primary character but his purposes in the season seemed rather minute.  I wouldn’t mind seeing him go back to being a dick, that’s the way I like my Eric Northman.

Jason Stackhouse

Thankfully Jason never changes.  I mean, he does go through some life-moments, but the heart of Jason remains the same.  First he goes to a sorority party and then decides NOT to have sex with a cute young co-ed because he doesn’t want to be that way anymore?  But does he mean it.

Well, he ends up having sex with his old teacher, the woman who helped shape the womanizer that he is but rejects her after they finish.  Jason winds up getting involved with the fairy stuff and finds out that his parents were actually killed by vampires.  This is when things do start to worry me about Jason because now he wants to kill all of the vampires.

That’s not you, man.  His anger is misguided because he wants to avenge his parents death but I know that Jason will realize the errors of his ways.  After Jessica finally wants to be with him, he’s like “No way” because she is a vampire but I have a feeling that by next season that will change.

Good old stupid, kind Jason Stackhouse.

Sookie Stackhouse

Finally, it all comes back to Sookie.  The main character of the show, Sookie was the central theme mainly because she was what brought together the mean Eric with the kind Bill.  She’s central to everything else.

Except that now Bill is a dick and doesn’t care about her.  Eric is nice and cares about her, but not as much as he cares about boning his sister.  Alcide was rejected and so has moved on and also found out that she killed his ex, which probably doesn’t help.  Russell wanted her for her blood, but he’s dead now.  Sam is basically married to Luna.  Tara hates her.  Pam hates her.  Lafayette is like her best friend now but he’s all like, “Taste this, bitch.”  I think she’s done a No-Call, No-Show at Merlotte’s for eight weeks straight, so she has no waitress friends.

Basically, we’re sitting here after five seasons and after being the central character, she plays a very little part in all of the storylines.  Couldn’t you sort of… continue the whole show without her?

Sookie’s mission this season was to find out more about fairies (oh cool!) and then find out what her grams was trying to tell her, which is that some old vampire named Warlow killed her parents and that she is owed to him from a very old pact.  So that’s definitely going to be the storyline of season six for Sookie, finding out who Warlow is, but does anybody care about Sookie anymore?

Including you, the viewer?

I’m sure that by then, they will make her more central to the lives of the other 87 characters but as of this year, she was mostly just another arc in the middle of 112 story arcs, not central to anything.  Not especially memorable.

At the very end of the season, Bill turns into bloody evil Bill and Eric tells her to run before the shit hits the fan.  As we know with all True Blood cliffhangers, it’s going to be okay.  But even then I’m asking myself, “Okay, I want to know more about what the hell Bill has become” and I’m not really concerned about Sookie anymore.  That’s what True Blood, season five, was all about for me.

 

Let Me Spoil That For You: In Time

August 5, 2012 § 5 Comments

Unexpectedly, I’ve come to like Justin Timberlake as an actor.  He has been good on his appearances on Saturday Night Live, he was good in The Social Network, and he seems like a natural actor with good turns in lesser-known films like Alpha Dog.  He hasn’t had any one turn as a starring actor that has stabilized him as a guy that can carry a movie, and after watching In Time, I’m not sure that he ever will.

It’s not that JT was especially bad as an actor in the movie, but I have to question his choices on films and agents, because this is absolutely one of the dumbest movies I’ve ever seen.

The basic premise of In Time is interesting: Currency in the future is time and instead of earning money and spending money, you earn and spend time which is kept on a green-lit counter on your forearm.  When your time runs out, you die.  People stop aging at 25 and then you’ve got a year which starts counting down immediately.  The awkwardness of everybody being 25 starts immediately when Timberlake’s mom, played by Olivia Munn, Wilde turns “50″ but still looks like Wilde Munn.

It really opens up my eyes to the fact that it’s a good thing that our parents look older as they get older.  I don’t think any of us want to think of our parents as “hot.”  The movie is fast and loose with the whole “age 25″ thing as the movie goes on.

Timberlake, 31, is just one example.  But then there’s Johnny Galecki, 37, Vincent Kartheiser, 33, and Cillian Murphy, 36.  It’s like an older version of just accepting that everyone in Beverly Hills 90210 was supposed to be in high school.  Okay fine, I can accept that, but I can’t accept one of the worst screenplays ever constructed.

The movie starts out with Timberlake as just a boy who loves his mama and she has three days left, but nobody ever seems too worried about having only a day or two left, or even a couple of hours.  So not worried about it that his mom even gives JT “30 minutes for lunch” and then JT gives five minutes to some little girl on the street even though she has plenty of time and he has less than a day.

Later that night, with only a day left, JT decides to go out to a bar (for what reason, we do not know, but all he tries to do is get his best friend Galecki to leave) and ends up saving a guy from getting killed.  This guy has been flaunting his 116 years all night in buying drinks for everyone and now “Minute Men” are here to kill him or steal it or something.  It’s not really sure because JT says that they don’t want to rob him, just kill him because nobody should have that much time.  But JT saves him, for what reason, we do not know.  I guess because he’s the good guy?

That should be obvious enough right?  We knew going into the movie that Timberlake would be the good guy, the protagonist, but you’ll end up being surprised with how his character turns.  He ends up saving the guy but the next morning the guy gives JT his remaining 116 years and kills himself.  We don’t know why.

After he kills himself, these other guys show up to the body but it’s not really explained why because these aren’t Minute Men like from before, this is a group of men led by Cillian Murphy that immediately show up to try and find where the guys time went. Why they know that he died so soon, where to find him, how much time he had?  We don’t know why.

JT’s first move is to go to his best friends house and give him 10 years, this we can understand why.  Then he goes to meet his mom at the bus stop but she’s not there because she couldn’t afford the bus.  It went up to 2 hours and she had only an hour and a half left.  The bus driver wouldn’t let her ride for free and pay later, even though she would die.  Why he was so cold?  We don’t know why.

She runs and runs to meet her son but wasted too many minutes trying to get help and whatnot.  Why didn’t they setup to meet with a little more time left?  Why cut it so close?  We don’t know.  But she dies running into his arms and apparently this sets off JT to do something.  What?  We don’t really know.

JT decides its time to get out of his time zone so he travels to the rich district known as “New Greenwich” (get it?) and everybody seems to immediately notice that he’s not from here because he’s running and hustling around and everyone in the rich district takes their time because they have time.  He decides to go to the casino and spend his newfound time.  Why?  We have no idea.

He gets into a hand with Vincent Kartheiser (Mad Men) who is really rich and goes all-in.  He risked everything to get to this point even though he was a very big long shot.  (I play poker and let me explain it like this: JT had an inside straight draw, meaning that he had to get a 7 with one card left in order to win.  That gives him an 92% chance of losing.  Yet he risked it all.)  He ended up winning over 1000 years on the hand.  He tells Kartheiser that it wasn’t a risk, he knew he would win.  How?  We don’t know why.

So Kartheiser ends up inviting the guy that just took hundreds of years off of him to a party at his mansion.  Why?  We don’t know.  JT buys a 59-year sports car.  Why?  We don’t know.  Immediately at the party he makes lovey eyes with Amanda Seyfried, Kartheiser’s daughter that he met at the casino, and they go off into the backyard which is actually a beach.  This is when JT really lays the charms on by suggesting they go for a swim but she’s like all “What? I’m rich, I don’t swim!” or something but it’s one of those really setup cliche lovey moments that immediately intertwines the two as soulmates, right?  Okay, fine, whatever.

But then when they get back in the party, Murphy and his goons (one of which looks exactly like Nick Carter and I really wish that it was) are there and they say that they just need to talk to JT.  Kartheiser is like “Okay” and then without asking they just take him upstairs into a room.  Its kinda rude to be conducting interviews in another dudes house without asking permission right?  But they accuse JT of killing that original guy for his 116 years and they take away all of his time except for a couple of days or something.  Why?  Why not at least give him enough himself in a court of law?  By now JT had over 1000 years and you’re accusing him of stealing 100+ years, so why take all of it?  In the future, cops can just kill you?

Ok.

Except that JT ends up escaping easily by hitting a couple of goons in the face and then, get this, stealing a gun and taking Seyfried hostage.  Like, this girl that he just met and made a lovey swim with, he’s now holding a gun to her face and kidnapping her.  They escape in his new car and get chased down.  The car chase that ensues is not only boring but incredibly cliche as JT ends up driving backwards for awhile and then just getting away.

That sums up the action part of this action move pretty well… its incredibly boring and stupid and easy and cliche.  He escapes danger without much effort.

With only a few hours left, it’s now morning and they’re driving back to his own time zone and then all of a sudden drive over a tire strip and they flip over in the car into one of those man-made ravines in an accident that looks like it should kill or at least seriously injure somebody, but it just knocks them out.  Now they’re back to the Minute Men, not the cops, and those guys steal their time.  Not all of it of course, because that would end the movie, but just enough.  Just enough for JT and Seyfried to find a pawn shop and trade her diamond earrings in for two days.

How did the Minute Men know exactly where to put the tire strip?  We don’t know.

At this point, JT is basically a bad guy, right?  He was falsely accused of killing that guy, but now he’s committing real crimes.  He kidnapped Seyfried.  It’s not “cute.”  It’s not “chivalrous.”  He just kidnapped her.  A swim in the ocean on your first night together doesn’t give you the right to take someone hostage and almost get them killed.  Then as the movie goes on, they BOTH turn into criminals.

They end up robbing the time lending banks that her father owns.  The film tries to turn it into a whole “Robin Hood” thing by stealing the time and then giving it to the needy, but they never explain why any of this happened in the first place.  Yeah, that’s right, they never explain it.  You’re just supposed to accept that the government has given everybody only 25 years and a year, and that some people will get to live forever.  But no real antagonist in the government is ever given.

Is Cillian Murphy, a cop doing his job, really the antagonist?

Or Vincent Kartheiser, a businessman who we’re supposed to hate simply because he has money?

The Minute Men are obvious antagonists because they kill and steal for time, but they’re hardly a big picture “bad guy.”  If anything, the bad guys have become JT and Seyfried as a Mickey & Mallory, Bonnie & Clyde, Robin Hood & Patti Hearst duo.  Except that I have no real reason to care about them, like them, or root for them.

After a 10-year reward is put on the heads of Seyfriend and Timberlake, the Minute Men track them down to a hotel and decide to “fight” to the death.  Fighting is basically the stupidest thing I’ve seen in a science fiction action movie since Equalibrium, except way dumber.

Basically you hold hands with your opponent and the person that has their arm turned over until the other person runs out of time, wins.  Yep, that’s IT.  You expect that there’s more to it?  There isn’t.  Timberlake loses most of the “fight” until he has just seconds left and then he turns his arm over.  OH MY GOD, LOOK, HE TURNED HIS ARM OVER!  Then he takes all of the guys time and takes a gun out of his shoe and shoots the other three Minute Men, who all have horrible reaction time.  And that’s how the Minute Men get killed.

JT and Seyfried decide that they need to steal enough time to balance out the rich and the poor and so they steal a million years from her father.  Again, her father isn’t really the bad guy here.  Maybe he’s greedy.  Maybe he thinks that it’s okay if a few people die for a few people to be immortal, but he hardly setup the system.  Who did?  We don’t know, really.

If you think about it, the system was always going to fail.  The people in poverty would die out in a very short amount of time.  They only have 25+ years and so you eventually will not be having as many babies as you’ll have deaths.  The rich people will never die.  Steve Jobs would never die.  Paul Allen would never die.  Even people of moderately high wealth like a baseball player or actor would probably be able to live for thousands of years.  They’d have lots and lots of kids.  The poor wouldn’t.

So eventually the system would topple over when only rich people lived and the poor people died.  There is no 1% without the 99% to give them all our money.  The whole concept of In Time, ultimately, is flawed.  And if it’s not flawed, well, it’s never explained.  Just like nothing is ever explained in the movie.

Murphy is eventually and cleverly killed when… his time runs out.  Wait, that’s not clever.  That’s just a thing that happens.

So JT and Seyfried end up just barely getting some extra time… in time…. and then decide that they need to steal more time and give it out to the poor.  By now they’ve just fully turned over from the good guys in the movie, to bad guys.  They’re just criminals by now.  Huh.  Okay.  Well, interesting move, I’ll say that!

Fin.

In Time had some good production value.  It has good actors like Murphy and Timberlake.  But wow, what a shitty story.  The script was, without a doubt, one of the flimsiest, cliche, unexplained, boring, plothole-ridden, pieces of crap that has ever been given a big Hollywood budget.  Usually bad screenplays are only greenlit when a star decides he or she wants to be in it.  I can only imagine that JT decided this would be a hit, that it was a good movie, and so they made it.  He was also really wrong.

Writer/Director Andrew Niccol, who wrote Truman Show, Gattaca, and Lord of War, I thought was better than a piece of shit like this.  I guess he wasn’t.

If there’s a reason for why he made this terrible movie, it was never explained.

Netflix Instant Review: How The Universe Works (And Why Humans Need To Know This If We’re Going To Survive)

July 12, 2012 § 3 Comments

I have spent a lot of time lately thinking about the universe.  About our planet and what really lies beyond it.  There’s a lot of problems on Earth, but damn it, I think that the future of our species really depends on what we can do to move off of this planet.  Thank God we have people looking into this.

Before I started watching How The Universe Works, I didn’t know very much about the other seven planets in our solar system, the Sun, or really anything outside of this solar system.  I thought that maybe I did, but after having watched the first season on Netflix, I realized that I didn’t know anything.  Now I probably know like .01% of the information, and that’s a lot.  How The Universe Works is an amazing and necessary starting guide for anybody else that’s interested in finding out more about how the universe was put together and how it will ultimately fall apart.

You’ll learn things like that the universe is about 14 billion years old, but also be told why we know that rather than just being expected to believe that we could date something as complex and amazing as the universe.  You’ll learn how the Earth was constructed and how close it was to never being born at all.  You’ll learn about how it’s all going to be destroyed someday.

When I was younger, I thought that the NASA program was an incredible waste of money.  Why would we spend billions or trillions of dollars on getting to places like the Moon?  What could we have really learned from that and what are we really doing to advance our species by finding out what kind of gasses Jupiter is made of?  It never made a lot of sense to me.  Wouldn’t we be better off spending that money on education or a Michael Jackson amusement park?  But more recently I’ve started to wonder what the point of any of this is and thinking that if and when the human species becomes extinct, why were we even here?

Are we just doomed to become fossils for another generation of animal that will arise a billion years from now?  Then I started to look beyond the atmosphere.  Beyond the planets in this solar system.  To some place many light years away…

To a place where a human-like species is already living and thriving.  If we could just contact them, we could potentially learn more about ourselves, about evolution, and perhaps about technology in a single day than we have in our entire history.  Imagine if we encountered a species that was very similar to ourselves, but had been around for an additional 100,000 years.

Or even imagine if we had encountered that same species, but we were about 100,000 years ahead of them and what that could teach us about ourselves as we are now.  Wouldn’t that be the greatest moment of our species existence?  Well, what’s the likelihood of that?

Watching How The Universe Works gave me a good basic understanding of how the universe began, how stars are born and die, and how galaxies form in very similar fashion to one another.  We can also learn that there are many planets out there that are of the correct distance away from the sun and the right size to potentially have liquid water and as we should know by now, that’s all you need to get started.  A planet with water is a planet that can support life and be a hot-bed for it.  And so then, if the planets and galaxies are constructed in a similar way, and if many of these planets could potentially have water, then isn’t it likely that life would form in the same way?  That our paths, even separated by hundreds of light years, are going to be quite alike?

Of course, the real question that we should be asking ourselves is not if alien life exists (because it almost surely does with billions and billions of stars supporting billions of planets) but if we’ll ever be able to contact it.  After all, even a trip past the moon seems to be difficult and as I learned in the series, probes sent to far off places like Jupiter take many years to get there.  It would be so far beyond my capable thinking ability to understand what it would take to get 100s of times further than that and be able to reach a place like that while any of us are still alive.

However, what we know now isn’t going to be anything like what we know in 10, 20, or 100 years from now.  Intellectual and technological advancement doesn’t grow at a constant rate, it’s exponential.

Imagine how insane the world would look today to a person who time-traveled to the present from 1912.  The Titanic was probably the most amazing thing that they had ever seen, and that mother sank.  Now everybody has a car or two, a television or three, a little device in their pocket that allows them to contact everyone else from anywhere on the planet, the ability to travel in the air away from icebergs, and the ability to actually go off into space and explore those shiny dots in the sky.  Isn’t it amazing just how far we’ve come from the 19th and 20th centuries?  For any rational human being, it should be mind-blowing.

So why can’t it be proposed that humans in the next 100 years will be able to create wormholes, fold time, propel jet engines at light speeds, or something else that nobody else has ever thought of?  I’d actually say, and this is just a non-genius, non-expert, regular guy opinion, that it’s quite likely and also very necessary if any of this is ever going to matter.

Anyway, what does any of that have to do with How The Universe Works?  The series, which aired on the Discovery Channel in 2010 and just premiered its second season on The Science Channel yesterday, has been crucial to opening up my mind and thinking outside the box on what’s possible.  It’s given me a basic understanding of just how the universe does work, but providing amazing imagery, excellent dialogue from experts, wonderful narration from Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs, and weaving together the story for the average, not-genius, regular guys and girls like myself.

The episode list is as follows:

Big Bang 

Black Holes (Holy god these are interesting)

Alien Galaxies

Extreme Stars

Supernovas (Perhaps the most amazing thing in the universe that we know of)

Extreme Planets

Alien Solar Systems

Alien Moons

It’s been an awesome opportunity to find out more information about the alien solar systems and galaxies to find out just whats out there.  And I mean, really really really out there.  That perhaps my strong inclination to get the hell off of this planet could actually have some possibility.  That the universe is just so vast that I could never be able to wrap my head around it but this series has at least given me a start and I would recommend it to anybody (yes, ANYBODY.  This is one of those things that should be shown to every sixth grader in the country and I wish that I had seen something like this at least a few times going through school) that has a slight interest in the universe.  Or even if they don’t.

I plan on watching the series at least a few times to get a better grasp on the knowledge given and I think it’s going to be very helpful in my continued personal exploration of why there even is an us, or a planet, or a universe.  Thankfully, I know a little bit more right now on how it works.

 

 

“Sweet Genius” Might Be My New Favorite Thing On TV

June 26, 2012 § 4 Comments

Not every highly-watchable show on television has to be scripted, or comedy, or drama, or on cable, or on network, or original, and especially doesn’t have to be “good.”  Such as the Food Network cooking contest show “Sweet Genius,” which is neither scripted, original, nor particularly good.  It’s just… hard to stop watching.

The other day there was absolutely nothing on TV to watch, my DVR’d programs seem old the instant that I record them, and sometimes it doesn’t feel like Netflix has added a new movie worth watching since the DVD was invented.  So I just flipped the channel to the first show that I saw on the guide that simply didn’t offend my sensibilities: Chopped.

For those that don’t know, Chopped is a show on the Food Network that pits four contestants against each other in a battle royale of three cooking challenges in which crazy secret ingredients force the chefs into precarious corners from which they must escape with a tasty dish or face elimination.  In other words: makey good food or get chopped.  It’s not original (Hi, Iron Chef!) but it’s just entertaining enough for me to watch.

Chopped is something I consider to be “throw-away television.”  This is how I categorize shows that are pleasant to watch but will give you almost nothing in return.  Breaking Bad gives me something each time I watch it.  The History Channel gives me something when I watch it.  Wheel of Fortune, however, gives me nothing.  Wheel is just a way to pleasantly kill 30 minutes of my time.  I enjoy it, but I could definitely prosper without it.  It’s the same with Chopped or Two and a Half Men or many shows on television.

So the other night I had watched Chopped and with nothing much else to do, I kept watching the next show on the Food Network and that show was Sweet Genius.  The format is almost exactly the same as Chopped: Four contestants, three rounds, one person eliminated each round until the winner is declared a “Sweet Genius” and given $10,000 for making liver ice cream or some other God-awful creation.

However…

Sweet Genius turned out to be so much more than that and it’s all thanks to the judge of the show, Ron Ben-Israel.  Whereas Chopped is inconspicuously hosted by Ted Allen (yawn) and then three guest judges (yawn x3) the strength of Sweet Genius is that there is only one gay madman running the show.  (Oooh, do I mean gay as in happy frolicking or gay is in gay?  Intrigue!)

Well, I suppose I mean both.

Ben-Israel is an openly gay pastry chef and the show takes on those sensibilities with great pride, I’d say.  The show is flashy, glittery, and subtly uses innuendo (“hot behind! hot behind! hot behind!” once yelled out on the show) throughout.  I watched two episodes back-to-back and both episodes featured a contestant that was a homosexual male.  Not something that is necessarily “taboo” but also not something that you see on most shows so frequently.  Sure, being a male pastry chef will always pique curiosities, but not every male pastry chef is gay just like not every male hair stylist is gay.  It just so happens (or maybe not just so happens) that both of the episodes featured a gay male contestant.

But the show also makes me gay… with happiness!  What’s so watch-able about Sweet Genius?

First of all was the gay innuendos that are constant in the sixty minutes, prompting me to ask my roommate if this was real.  It felt like I was watching something created by Sasha Baron Cohen for Bruno but that also had a strong hint of Zoolander.  Every moment of the show felt like it was a scripted “reality” show and that the joke was on us, the viewers.  It literally feels like a long SNL skit, except still funny.

Secondly, the fact that these contestants are asked to make three different desserts (Frozen, Baked, and Chocolate) but scramble to figure out how to incorporate flavors like squid ink and roasted peking duck into a tasty treat.  One contestant actually became so flustered at the end that he simply plopped his whisk from the blender into an ice cream glass and figured, “Yeah, this looks good.”

However… 

By the time that the treat had gotten to Ben-Israel, the ice cream had melted and so he was left with a dish of melted ice cream that had a giant whisk sticking in the middle of it.  Like, “Hey, here is a kitchen utensil right in the middle of your dessert making it impossible to eat.  Enjoy!”

Thirdly, contestants are given “inspirations” that they must incorporate along with their flavors and desserts.  It might be a turtle (which Ben-Israel bears a striking resemblance to), or a toy carousel, or a high heel… who knows what the future holds?  Perhaps inspirations like lamp, Playstation 2, or the former Soviet Union.  The possibilities are literally endless because it seems that they have no bearing on what qualifies as an “inspiration.”

But lastly and most importantly is Ben-Israel.  Like I said before, he’s a gay madman.  It doesn’t really matter that he’s gay, but it certainly adds to the charm of all the innuendos and the descriptions he gives of the flavors as he tastes the desserts.  “Fresh” “Sexy” and “Playful” being among my favorites.  However, it’s the “madman” quality that really sets him apart into the next pantheon of memorable judges.

In real life, Ben-Israel is a world-renowned “cake artist” but as a host he seems like a kid in a candy store, getting to press the buttons, throw out the curveballs, and judge the contestants for their good and their bad.  (Especially entertaining when its their bad, like the “disaster” for having a whisk inside of a bowl of melted ice cream.  Though the taste of the ice cream was described as “Amazing.”)   Another favorite is that he’ll tell you some good things about your dessert but you know a “however” is coming.  Everything that comes after “however” could crush your soul.

Probably the top moment for me during those two episodes, and probably one of my television all-time highs, was when the secret ingredient for the chocolate round was roasted duck.  One of the contestants basically ended up making a savory meat pie, but this is “Sweet Genius.”  The point isn’t to make just anything with duck and chocolate, the point was to make a dessert and her chocolate duck pie was basically just duck pie.  Ben-Israel describes the action and flavors…

I get what Ben-Israel is trying to say, that the flavors were overwhelmed with “duck,” but damn.  I just about lost my mind when I heard him simply describe the duck pie as “ducky.”  Please Ron, teach me how to Ducky.  Despite the fact that the flavor was duck, the very last adjective I had expected to hear in describing the taste was “ducky” so therefore I experienced a laughter I haven’t felt on CBS, ABC, or most of NBC for years.  Ben-Israel: a far superior comedienne to Whitney Cummings.

It got me thinking as to how Ben-Israel would describe other things, by simply naming what they are…

AGAIN:

OF COURSE IT DOESNT HAVE TO RHYME, IT JUST HAS TO BE A THING!

I could go on like this for hours, just like I could watch this ridiculously entertaining show called Sweet Genius, but I won’t.  I’ll just give a few and then spend the rest of the week thinking of other things that Ben-Isreal could describe in perfect detail by telling you what it actually is.

In the meantime, I’ll be watching Sweet Genius at whatever time it airs on the Food Network not because it’s so good, but because it’s deliciously bad for all the right reasons and I’ll have a gay old time doing so.

Stay sexy.  Stay fresh.  Ducky.

 

Movie Monday: The Cabin in the Woods Review, It’s a Real “Game-Changer”

April 16, 2012 § Leave a comment

“Game-Changer” was the word of the day on Saturday.

That’s what my friend said he had heard in reference to the movie The Cabin in the Woods.  “It’s supposed to be a game-changer!”  That’s when the word game-changer really flipped the script on our day and everything we thought we had known about adjectives was changed.  Our game’s had been changed.

But what about the movie?  Was it really a game-changer for the movie industry and specifically for the horror genre?  Did Joss Whedon (the name that was heavily attached to the project and promotion even though the film was directed by first-timer-in-the-chair Drew Goddard) just change everything we know and expect about horror movies?

Boy, the game will never be the same!

Or it might.  These things go in cycles.  The horror genre is changed like every five years: Halloween was a game-changer by popularizing the slasher genre.  Scream was a game-changer.  Saw was a game-changer.  The Ring was a game-changer.  And now, The Cabin in the Woods is the latest film to put a new direction on the horror genre.

Cabin set out, like Scream, to put a mirror on the genre and say “This is what you are.  This is what you do.  Now, this is what we think about it and we’re going to use every cliche to our benefit and call you out for it.”

The movie doesn’t over-explain how any of what they are doing is possible, letting the viewer decide for themselves whether or not they want to fill the (many) plot-holes of Cabin but did Whedon and Goddard under-explain?  You know, by leaving so many questions for the viewer?  It would be nice to think that the movie didn’t sort of use a cop-out by the end of it, but when you release yourself from worrying about it you’ll find that you just had the most fun at a movie that you’ll have all year.

Any horror fan should recognize how great The Cabin in the Woods really is and just enjoy that you’ve got a very talented group of people making a $30,000,000 horror movie (a lot for the genre) just gave an homage to a genre that I hold very near and dear to my heart.  There are a lot of crappy horror movies but Cabin shows that when great people decide to dip into the genre, they can create something that gives you positive emotions for 90 minutes.

Isn’t that the whole idea of going to the movies anyway?  To feel something?  To escape?  I laughed, I jumped, I rooted for the characters, I gained more appreciation for Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford, I saw the genre take a new direction for the foreseeable future (Welcome back to a sci-fi/horror mix of copycats!) and the game has been changed.

I can already see that I’ll probably watch The Cabin in the Woods 20+ times in my life, depending on how much longer I actually live.  It’s going to spend some time in my PS3 when it hits blu-ray, that’s for sure.

The game-changer gets a perfect score: 10/10.

Also saw:

  • 21 Jump Street.  Really great.  9/10.  Surprised at just how funny it was and I’m not even the biggest Jonah Hill fan these days.  I actually like Channing Tatum more than Jonah Hill.  He’s just so…. dreamy.
  • Re-watched: Ducktales The Movie.  Because I spit hot fire.
  • Re-watched: Scrooged.  An underrated Bill Murray movie?
  • Re-watched: 50/50.  I liked it better the second time around, but I still don’t think it’s all that great.

 

 

The Killing: 5 Reasons To Not Watch Season Two

March 23, 2012 § 12 Comments

Who Killed Rosie Larsen?

Who.  Really.  Gives.  A.  Shit.  Anymore?

Oh right, I do; Because I am a completest and I have been suckered into the show and finding out how it truly ends, I just hope that it only lasts two seasons.  Much like how Detective Sarah Linden should have never gone on that final call regarding Rosie, I should have never turned on that first episode of The Killing.  If you’ve never seen the show and if you’re thinking about catching up before the April 1st season premiere of the second season, let me give you some advice: Don’t.

It’s funny what AMC seems to get away with these days in terms of dramatic television.  Living off of the success of Mad Men and Breaking Bad (which are either the two best dramas on TV right now or the two best TV dramas of all-time) AMC has continued to churn out new dramas in the hopes that it can strike gold a third time.  In my opinion, it has yet to do that.

In the last year and a half, AMC has debuted three new series with great anticipation from the audience: The Walking Dead, The Killing, and Hell on Wheels.  AMC also debuted a show called Rubicon that was cancelled after one season and that I know nothing about, which tells you something else about how “Not everything on AMC is to be revered.”

For instance, The Walking Dead is incredibly popular, well-received, and is the “water cooler drama” of the moment, having just finished it’s second season after a long  mid-season intermission.  The season two finale was watched by nine million people, making it the most-watched basic cable drama telecast in history, which will assure that it stays on the air for awhile.  How good is it really though?  The Walking Dead has its moments but is incredibly flawed in story-telling, continuity, character development, and can go weeks without anything interesting happening.  Why do I watch?  Because I love zombies.  That’s basically it.  However, Dead has taken too long to get from point A to point B and the ultimate standoff between the protagonist and antagonist should have been established in season one.  Look at the epic-ness of shows like Justified and Breaking Bad and you’ll see what I mean.  I see what you’re trying to do Dead, so why not just do it already?

And this is still coming from a Walking Dead fan but are you going to make season three epic or are you going to drag this out for another two years?

Let’s be honest on level of epic-ness: Breaking Bad/Mad Men………………. BIG GAP…………………… The Walking Dead.  Can anyone really disagree with that?

The other show that came out during that time was Hell On Wheels.  The show had a lot of potential but I admit that I’ve still got the last four episodes on my DVR and they’ve been sitting there for months and I’ve never once heard anyone on Twitter or Facebook mention the show a single time.  It’s just sort of… there.  And it’ll be back for season two.

Back to the heart of this matter, now that I’ve given AMC the proper beat-down it needed on the other shows and talk about the really stupid show that was nominated for six Emmys.  The Killing will be back next Sunday and kick-off season two in the hopes that it gives you less answers than the first year.  There are a lot of reasons that you should not watch, but here are just five of them:

Bad Acting

Mireille Enos was actually nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress at the Emmys and Best Actress in a Drama at the Golden Globes (the more sensible Globes didn’t nominate The Killing in any other category) and I only have one question:  WHY?!

As Detective Sarah Linden, Enos plays a “take shit from nobody female cop that chews gum and shit and has hunches and is so much better than Detective Holder who is lazy and stupid and I’m the lead you got it cause as I said before I do not take shit from anyone did you think that just because I am a small woman that I am a pushover because you should know that I’m tough as nails and I don’t take shit from nobody.”

And the thing with The Killing is that there are very few good actors on the show so anyone that’s decent at acting should really stand out.  Those people are: Brent Sexton (Stan Larsen), Michelle Forbes (Mitch Larsen), and Eric Laden (Jamie Wright.)  I’ll give Joel Kinnamen credit because I had no clue that he was a full-blooded Swede, but that helps explain his stupid-sounding-thug accent.  Unless Enos turns out to actually be a 4-foot-tall black man in real life, I am not really sure where the “Best Actress” nominations came from but she is far from the worst actor on the show:

Bennet Ahmed

“I’m not a pedophile but I did marry Chrissy from Growing Pains”

Belko

“I’m naughty.  Momma says I been naughty.  Also, I was in Empire Records.”

Regi

“Hi.  I’m Regi.”

Councilman Darren Richmond (the WORST)

“Almost twenty years ago I was The Rocketeer.  Let’s just say my career didn’t ‘Skyrocket’ after that!”

Watch a show like Mad Men, they can sit around and talk about baseball for an hour and you’ll be entranced at the talent and method of the craft  of acting.  Watch The Killing for an hour and if they don’t produce a dead body you might as well pray for the same fate as Rosie.  It doesn’t help that the show is….

Really F’ing Cheesy

Well, I could make you watch any scene with Tom Drexler the investor

or we could just point out some of the best quotes of season one:

  • Holder: So good little dead girl was a bad little web girl.
  • Tom Drexler the Investor: People like me can do whatever the hell we want and do you know why? Because the Richmonds of the world will always clean up after us.
  • Holder: Yeah, you’re a real role model. You teach her how to shotgun a beer?
  • Tom Drexler: One shot and you get your five mil. Now you miss it, and you resign from the race. What do you say? Yes we can?
  • Darren Richmond: Adams wants to play dirty, he best like the taste of mud.
  • Mayor Adams: In no time at all, Darren’s come here and built himself a real rainbow coalition: blacks, fruits, whores, and drug addicts.
  • Linden: You don’t seem like the type that shares your toys
  • Linden: Cause you dress like Justin Bieber and eat pork rinds for dinner.
  • Linden: In situations like this, I like to ask myself: what would Jesus do? Holder: Don’t know. I’ll ask him.
The Killing takes every tv show cop cliche and says “Fuck yeah, let’s use that.  Let’s bury that cliche into the ground so deep that one day they’ll say “You’re stealing that from The Killing” because we’ll do it so hard that they’ll forget how it was done 1000 times before.”
Speaking of cliches, The Killing is set in Seattle and…

Disrespects My Home City, Seattle

Not because a young girl is murdered there, because young girls are murdered everywhere (and okay, Seattle has a certain reputation with serial killers) but by the obvious fact that everything the writers and producers of The Killing know about Seattle, they probably learned on TV and movies.

Fact: It actually doesn’t have torrential downpour every single minute of every single day.  It rains a lot in Seattle, relatively, but did you know that the sun actually does appear every day in Washington?  No joke!  We are part of the earth!  I know, crazy, right?

 

 

I live in Los Angeles now and down here we actually get much heavier rain than you’ll see in Seattle.  Sure, it rains about ten times less often, but the hard rain is in LA and the consistent rain is in Seattle… but it’s not THAT consistent.  We don’t need to walk around covered in tarps 24/7.  We do things during the day as well.  And the sun comes out.

“I’ll end up as security at the Space Needle” says Holder in one episode, in a way to note that “YES WE ARE INDEED IN SEATTLE.  I MADE A SPACE NEEDLE REFERENCE.”  I can honestly say that the only people who ever talk about or ask about the space needle are people that have never been to Seattle.  I expect in this season at some point Linden will say “Let’s go arrest the perp, but first let’s throw fish at Pike’s Place Market.”

Finally, and this has always bugged me…. WE DON’T HAVE A DEL TACO IN SEATTLE SO WHERE THE FUCK DID YOU GET THAT IDEA HOLDER?

I’m glad to finally get that off my chest.  Maybe it would be easier to accept all of this if I liked any of the characters but….

 

There Isn’t a Single Character To Root For

 

Watch a good show like The Wire or Breaking Bad or Mad Men and you’ll find yourself invested in characters that you shouldn’t root for, but you do anyway because they are amazing.  A criminal like Omar, a liar and cheater like Don Draper, a psychotic chemistry teacher like Walter White… you love them for their faults and you hate them for their faults but God Damn It you LOVE them.  Who the hell am I supposed to love or even like in The Killing?

The stupid ass mayor and his stupid ass aides?  The teacher that married his student and has an inappropriate relationship with Rosie?  The detectives that are kind of shitty at their job, one of whom is a recovering druggie that seems to have really good skills at picking up high school chicks when he need to and the other one that can’t keep her emotions in check when a murder investigation is ongoing?  And don’t even get me started on her fiance that can’t understand why she needs to finish A MURDER INVESTIGATION OF A YOUNG GIRL.

The only person that I can even kind of root for is the father Stan Larsen (and not his wife who freaks out and gets mad at him for everything he does) and I think I mostly root for Stan because he kind of looks like Louis CK:

 

Also, how amazing would it have been if the show had cast Louis CK?  How much more watchable would it be then, because Louie can actually do a really good “sad” even if his overall acting is a work in progress.  Just imagine Louie in this world as a grieving father and looking around The Killing and calling everyone out for their bullshit.  Amazing.

Too bad they didn’t though because I really don’t care what happens to any of these characters.  I just want to find out with 100% certainty who the killer is but will that ever happen, because….

 

You Won’t Get Any Answers, You Only Get Red Herrings And Questions

 

The end of season one seemed to answer the question of who killed Rosie Larsen but also left it open so that the writers could change their minds if they wanted to.  Ginia Bellafante of The New York Times defended the ending of season one, but is also a vehement defender of the show and believes it’s got a lot more positives that meet the eye.  I don’t think so.  I think we’re looking for answers but The Killing isn’t giving us any.  At least three times during the season did it seem like we had a serious candidate for who the killer was and then the next week they tore it out of our hands.

This season on The Killing:  

 

Linden: Bennet, we’ve got you on tape murdering Rosie Larsen and the DNA evidence proves it.

Bennet: But I didn’t do it!

Holder: You clearly did, we have all the evidence we need to put you away for life.

 

/Well that’s clearly it for Bennet…

 

The next week….

 

Seattle Chief of Police: We’ve got evidence that Bennet has a rock solid alibi.

Linden: But what about the video and the DNA?

Chief: The video was faked by the Coalition of People Against Muslims and the DNA was planted.

Holder: Damn son.

 

The writers feel like they can do anything and then get away with it the next week by writing something else that proves it was all a fake-out.  That’s why Ginia is clearly going to be proven wrong on her assertion that “They did prove who the killer was in season one and they’ll just move onto the next crime.”

 

I am absolutely certain that The Killing will throw a wrench into the gears next Sunday and tell us that indeed the killer was setup and we’re going to have to keep looking for Rosie’s killer.  Why?  Because the show isn’t very good and it hates to give us answers when it knows that by giving us bullshit, they won’t lose viewers.  Twin Peaks was seen as one of the greatest shows in TV history during it’s first season and was an absolute American obsession that year… until they wrapped up season one and went into season two with a new plight and was cancelled shortly thereafter.  The Killing will drag this murder on for as long as it has to, trust me.

I feel like the viewer is Tom Cruise and The Killing is Jack Nicholson:

 

The Killing: You want answers?

The Viewer: I think I’m entitled to it.

The Killing: You want answers?

The Viewer: I WANT THE TRUTH!

The Killing: YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!!

The Killing: Son, we live in a world that has television, and that television has to be created by men with families and responsibilities.  Who’s gonna do it?  You?  You Kenneth Arthur?  Writers have a greater responsibility than you could possibly fathom.  You weep or Rosie Larsen, and you curse the writers.  You have that luxury.  You have the luxury of not knowing what I know.  That dragging out Rosie’s death, while tragic, probably keeps you tuned in another week.  And our existence, while annoying and incomprehensible to you, gets viewers.  You don’t want the answer to who killed Rosie because deep down in places you don’t talk about at the water cooler, you want me writing TV, you need me writing TV.  We use words like red herring, Space Needle, and “Yo Linden!”.  We use these words as the backbone of a life spent annoying the shit out of television viewers.  You use them as a punchline for your TV reviews.  I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to viewers who rise and sleep under the blanket of cable television and then question the manner in which I provide it.  I would rather you just said “Thank you” and bought the DVD box set.  Otherwise, I suggest you write your own damn TV show and get a pilot sold.  Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you are entitled to.

The Viewer: Did Richmond murder Rosie?

The Killing: I did the job I….

The Viewer: DID RICHMOND MURDER ROSIE LARSEN?!?!

The Killing: WE HAVEN’T THOUGHT THAT FAR AHEAD!

And that’s pretty much exactly how I feel about it.  The writers wrote a premise and they didn’t write an ending so that’s why you get a new red herring every week and open-ended questions about who really killed Rosie.  Because those assholes that wrote the show didn’t even know.  And yet I sit here every week, knowing that I’ll watch season two because damn it, I want the truth.

I can handle it.

 

Follow me on Twitter and I’ll tell you who really killed Rosie Larsen!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drinking Game Review: Battleshots

January 29, 2012 § 1 Comment

Maybe I am a little too old to be playing drinking games like this one with my roommate.  (Pause for an epiphany about why I am still single.  Forgive all girls that have refused to date me seriously.)

Last week, my friend Kyle posted this picture (or one much like it) on Twitter:

Hmm, that looks interesting to me.  I enjoy Battleship and I enjoy drinking, so why not get the best of both worlds?

I sent the picture to my roommate, who proceeded to get so excited about it that he used his last two hours at work making the board out of a FedEX box.  So, I guess that means we are playing?

Yeah, we are:

We didn’t have the “boats” but we just lined up the shot glasses on the board as if the boats were there.

5 for Aircraft Carrier

4 for Battleship

3 for Destroyer

2 for 2 Cruisers

This is how we played.  If there is a different way to play, or we played “wrong” I don’t really care.  This is how we played.

We had three drinking options: 1 oz shots of tequila or whiskey, and also “chug half a beer” in order to break up the liquor shots.  When your opponent made a successful hit, we got to make our own choice and then pour the shot or drink the beer.  Honestly, pouring the shots ahead of time might have gotten too messy.

Set your board and then take your shots.  There really isn’t too much to it.

Pros:

  • You get drunk pretty quickly.  So, you don’t need that much alcohol.  We are talking about 16 shots and about 30 minutes of game time.  We got pretty messed up in under an hour.
  • It’s Battleship.  A childhood favorite.

Cons:

  • When you are talking shots of whiskey and tequila, nothing sucks more than when your opponent has found your aircraft carrier or battleship.  You’re staring down the barrel at that point.
  • Don’t plan to do anything afterwards.  You’ll be pretty messed up.

How I’d do it differently:

  • Play with more people, obviously.  It helps to not only have more friends in general, but in this game it would be nice to play on teams such as beer pong.
  • A bigger board that allowed for boats, or possibly to just play with solo cups of beer such as beer pong.
  • Apparently I just want to play beer pong.  But this game is something that can be played in any home, whereas beer pong can not.  Chalk that up to another Pro for Battleshots.
  • One thing I would not do differently is how I handled my phone situation before we played: I turned it off and had the battery hidden.  No morning regrets (almost.  DAMN YOU FACEBOOK!)

I give Battleshots 7 out of 10 shots.  If you want to get drunk quickly, it’s a great option and it’s a fun game.  However, if you want a casual drinking game or one that’s easy to setup, use a deck of cards.

I give my life 10 out 10 sad-faced clowns.

Follow me on Twitter @casetines

Terrible Lyrics? Boyz II Men – End of the Road

January 23, 2012 § 5 Comments

This week I will be performing in a karaoke competition with an iPad2 as the grand prize to the winner.  I want that damn iPad.

I would never purchase an iPad in my current financial state (ladies?) but win one of those portable time-wasters?  Hell yeah.  I’m not an Apple fanboy, but I recognize it’s superior product.  I don’t have an iPhone, but I do rock an iMac and a Macbook Pro.  I’m working my way up the fanboy ladder.

In preparation for winning this competition, I’ve chosen one of my favorite songs of all-time: End of the Road by none other than the Boyz that later grew up and became Men.  Also known as Boyz II Men and not to be confused with Boyz IV Men or Boys 2: Men.

Boyz II Men were a major part of my high school experience, and I was not ashamed to rock out to their ballads, dreaming that one day I too would grow up and become a man and sing these songs to women.  I’m still waiting for that day, but I picture it happening some time before Marty McFly saves his older self and retrieves the Sports Almanac.

I had to re-visit the song though and make sure that I had it down perfectly.  I could recite the whole song with ease, except for Michael’s spoken word plea to his ex.  This is a critical part of winning the karaoke competition, as it both A.) Stops me from singing and B.) Makes the girls go “woo!”

Seriously, it’s tactics like this that will have to win me that iPad.

I’ve been singing the song over and over again on my way to and from work.  Watching it on YouTube and reading the lyrics over and over again, just to get a perfect grasp on it so that my clean perfection of the words masks my complete inability to come close to Wanye’s “AND BABY JUST DON’T LET ME GOOOOOO!!!!”

In doing this however, I’ve come to the realization that this song is sad.  Not sad in the way that “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday” is but sad in the way that an R. Kelly song is sad.

Dude, the Boyz II Men were with a girl, they were dedicated to a girl, they loved a girl, and then the girl cheated on them.  According to Michael, this wasn’t just a one time deal.  She had a straight up affair and “all those times… ran out with that other fella.”

Guys… this chick sucks.  You need to realize that it’s good to be at the End of the Road with this one.  You’re the Boyz II Men, you don’t need this in your life.

I won’t go over the whole song, but here are some key parts:

We belong together
And you know that I am right
Why do you play with my heart?
Why do you play with my mind?

Interpretation: This starts out as a heartful, “Hey, love you! Kisses!” and turns into “Stop fucking with me!” very quickly.

Boyz, if you know that she’s playing mind games with you, then maybe you should move onto the next one.

Said we’d be forever
Said it’d never die
How could you love me and leave me and never
Say goodbye?

Interpretation: She’s a liar!  This girl sounds TERRIBLE!

Girl, each time I try I just break down and cry
Pain in my head
Oh, I’d rather be dead
Spinning around and around

Interpretation:  Yeesh.  We just found out that the Boyz are suicidal!  It seems like they want to get to the very end of the road.  And all over a chick that so far we have found out is manipulative and a liar that just ups and leaves without even saying goodbye.

Girl, I know you really love me
You just don’t realize
You’ve never been there before
It’s only
Your first time

Interpretation: You’re starting to creep me out Nathan, Michael, Shawn, and Wanye.  It seems pretty clear that this chick does not love you, yet you keep telling her that she does and she’s just confused.  That’s some restraining order shit.

Also, you were messing with a girl that had never been in a relationship before and her actions surprise you?  Have you guys ever been in a relationship before?  You’re old enough and famous enough and talented enough to not worry about girls that have never been there before.

Maybe I’ll forgive you
Maybe you’ll try 

Interpretation:  Now it’s a maybe?  I thought this whole song was you forgiving her and that she just needs to come back to you.  Don’t start wavering now.  Either commit or back off (as you clearly should.)

Will you love me again
Like you loved me before
This time I want you to love me much more
This time instead
Just come to my bed
And baby just don’t let me go

Interpretation: Love me.  Love me more than you did before.  Just come to my bed and don’t let me go.

So, if I’m reading that right, she loved you a lot less than a girl that would only come to your bed?  Boyz, did you even really date this girl?  It sounds like you’re just stalkers to be honest.

Michael, speak it!

All those times at night
When you just hurt me
And just ran out with that other fella
Baby I knew about it
I just didn’t care
You just don’t understand how much I love
Do you?
I’m here for you

Interpretation: You’re here for her?!  YOU.  ARE HERE.  FOR HER?!!!  Mikey, please understand that she was the one cheating on you.  And you just told her that you knew about it and did not care.  What do you think she’s going to do in regards to cheating during the second go-around?

I don’t like your stance on infidelity.

I’m not about to go out on cheat you
Just like you did
But baby that’s alright
I love you anyway

Interpretation: IT’S NOT ALRIGHT!  Forgiving a person is one thing.  Telling them that they did nothing wrong and let’s do this again and you keep runnin’ out with that other fella is not!

(Lonely)
Yes baby, my heart is lonely
(Lonely)

Interpretation: No shit you’re lonely.

Although we’ve come
To the end of the road
Still I can’t let go
It’s unnatural
You belong to me
I belong to you

Interpretation: Out of context, the chorus is great.  In context, what the fuck?

This girl sucks.  Stop writing songs for her.  Stop saying that it’s cool to her to run out with a bunch of other fellas.  I honestly don’t know if this chick ever cared for you.  You deserve better BIIM.

That ends my mini rant on End of the Road, and I will still be singing this song this week because it makes the girls swoon and the guys question their orientation because of the hotness I bring on stage.

iPadIIMen, here I come.

 

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