Monthly Archives: February 2010

LOSTWATCH!! – “That’s not John. This is my friend.”

In Bizarro World, we discover that not only is Jack a father, but he looks good doin’ it! Unfortunately, it’s sooo hard raising a kid and Jack’s having a tough time getting through to the little guy.

While Jack’s at his mom’s place, Jack Jr. packs a bag and runs away. Jack’s not sure what’s happened, but he fears the worst.

Now that’s he’s good and plastered, he starts drunk-dialing all his friends and screaming at them, Mel Gibson style.

He gets it in his head that his ex-wife came to pick him up (Man, that would be so like her, too. Seriously, does she think she can just pull this crap and there won’t be any consequences?), so he heads over to the heartless shrew’s house to get him back. As he’s ripping the place up the phone rings and he hears a sobering message.

Jack rushes to the performance just in time to see his son play. It’s touching. It’s beautiful. Jack catches him out in the parking lot.

On the island, there’s not a lot to do. Everyone’s just kind of bumming around, hanging out.

Hurley realizes that Miles is really starting to annoy the s**t out of him, so he goes off to explore. As he’s shuffling through the temple’s catacombs he sees Jacob, who tells him that he needs to take Jack on a secret mission.

It takes some doing, but Hurley’s able to convince Jack to go with him. They’re making their way through the jungle when they stumble upon Kate washing her nubile body in the river. All that sexual tension is a lot to keep stuffed down inside, and I’m wondering how they don’t just rip their clothes off right there.

Fun’s fun, but Kate’s keepin’ it real. This ain’t no time for jokes and she’s got to get back on the trail.

Women, huh? Jack and Hurley continue toward wherever the hell it is they’re going, which turns out to be a lighthouse. Why did they never see it before? Because they weren’t looking for it, that’s why! I love you, Lost. The two go inside.

When they get to the top, they find a mysterious compass, with mysterious names written around it. Hurley’s ready to go with it, but Jack’s had enough.

Jack collapses in a pile of spent rage and sissy tears. Outside, Jacob appears again and tells Hurley that everything went according to plan. I had a feeling it would.

When we last left Jin, he had gotten his foot stuck in a bear trap after trying to steal one of Claire’s pickinik baskets. Claire sets him free and takes Jin and the Other Other to her weird Jodie Foster teepee out in the jungle. It’s clear right from the start that she’s gone a little stir-crazy.

Jin has to be very careful or else he’ll set Claire off and have her go all Misery on him. She’s questioning the Other Other, convinced that they’re the ones who stole Aaron away from her. When he won’t answer her questions…

This is all par for the course for our timid little Claire, and she tells Jin that everything’s going to be alright.

Then, as if on cue…

LOSTWATCH!! – “Don’t tell me what I can’t do.”

In the new timeline, Locke’s working overtime on making us all feel sorry for him. But because he’s spent so much of the past few seasons being a complete douchebag, we’re really torn even though he’s in a wheelchair.

After faceplanting in his front yard, Locke takes a relaxing bath. Sadly, things don’t go much better for him there.

When he gets to work that morning, he makes smalltalk with his boss — who looks like a walking, talking STD — before being canned.

His luck begins to change when he meets Hurley, who as it turns out owns Locke’s company, and is more than willing to lend a helping hand.

Hurley sends Locke to his temp agency for a job. Locke is thinking something along the lines of a figure skating instructor or a contestant on So You Think You Can Dance. Rose, who runs the office, brings the ban hammer down on all of that mess and tells Locke he needs to be more realistic.

So Locke gets a job eating humble pie, amirite?? Naah, but seriously he starts as a substitute teacher, which for anyone who’s ever done that before knows that those jobs aren’t handled through temp agencies. Just sayin’. Anyway, he meets Mr. Benjamin Linus during his lunch break. Who knew that everyone on the show would end up moving to LA?

Now that Locke’s smiling again and coming to terms with the fact that he’ll never ever get out of his wheelchair (except for when he’s face down in his lawn), he’s learning to accept himself, and those around him, and himself. When he goes home that night, he finally comes clean about what he was doing in Australia.

Locke and Helen kiss and make up and all is right with the world once again.

Just like a fairy tale. Anyway, there’s a whole ton of crap going on on the island. Ben and the Ajira folks take some time to bury real-Locke. Ben, who’s looking more like the guy who goes door to door to notify the neighbors that he’s moved in, delivers a touching eulogy.

Elsewhere, not-Locke, who from here on out will be referred to as Locke, is looking to recruit more people to his cause, and Richard’s just the man to help him.

It turns out that Richard isn’t the man to help him, so Locke goes off to find Sawyer. When he finally finds him all boozed-up in Dharmaville, well, things aren’t looking too good.

Locke puts his disgust away long enough to try and bring him over to his side. He asks, “What if I could tell you why you were brought to this island?” Sawyer’s so drunk he doesn’t quite know how to react.

But in the end Sawyer puts his pants on and they take off. Locke says he’s got something he wants to show him. He leads Sawyer to a mysterious cave. Inside, there are names and numbers scrawled all over the walls. Locke tells Sawyer that it was an ancient system Jacob had come up with find out who the last Cylon was on Battlestar Galactica.

And oh yeah, someone needs to take Jacob’s place, protect the island, yadda yadda yadda.

Will they make it home? The best laid plans of mice and men, right Sawyer? *snicker* Literary humor!

Ian McShane boards next Pirates flick

Ian McShane, who played the foul-mouthed Al Swearengen in HBO’s Deadwood is walking the plank onto the next Pirates of the Caribbean sequel. Wait. Walking the plank means he’d be leaving it. Ian McShane, who played the foul-mouth Al Swearengen in HBO’s Deadwood is swashbuckling his way into the next Pirates of the Caribbean sequel (nailed it). McShane will play the dastardly Blackbeard opposite Johnny Depp, who as far as we know is the only actor returning for this latest go-around. I’m not exactly sure why his hair seems to be smoking, but then again, I’m not a big Hollywood producer. The only other question I have is how Disney audiences are going to deal with all those “f**ks” and “c**ksuckers” we’re 100% sure are going to be thrown out there. I can’t wait.

More at The Hollywood Reporter.

“You’re a rat in a maze.”

Hey, everyone! Did you hear the news? Martin Scorsese finally made a really good movie. All I can say is, it’s about time. But seriously, folks, you would think that after so many hits, Scorsese would be due for a real stinker. A movie that’s so predictable and contrived that you leave wishing you’d spent your hard-earned money on Miley Cyrus in I Want it Back. But no, it just hasn’t happened. Some of you may disagree and claim that Bringing Out the Dead with Nicholas Cage fits into this category. Of course, you’d be wrong.

Shutter Island is an adaptation of the Dennis Lehane novel of the same name. Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo play federal marshals who are sent to investigate the disappearance of an inmate at a secluded psychiatric facility. Once there, they slowly begin to realize that the purpose of their visit may not be what it seems, and dare I say, nefarious?

Leonardo DiCaprio is to Martin Scorsese what Robert De Niro is to Martin Scorsese. This is the fourth movie the two have made together, and it’s really no surprise why Scorsese likes working with him. He’s a good actor. So much so that thinking of how we used to equate him to Jonathan Taylor Thomas back before his Titanic days just seems silly now. His performance as Teddy Daniels leaves you wondering whether or not he’s the one losing his mind all the way to the end of the film. And while the rest of the cast performes admirably, DiCaprio is the film’s shining star.

Mark Ruffalo as DiCaprio’s partner Chuck Aule and Max von Sydow as the mysterious Dr. Naehring are both welcome additions to the cast, but the roles they play don’t exactly allow them to spread their wings and fly. It was nice however to see Ben Kingsley in a good movie again, rather than some of the garbage he’s been in lately.

The film’s got all the hallmarks of other Scorsese greats. Low camera angles and diffused light really bring parts of this picture to life and show DiCaprio coming undone. While several of the film’s loud gotcha! moments fall a little flat, you’re so drawn into things that you don’t notice it much. At almost two and half hours, you won’t find yourself checking your phone to see what time it is. Well, unless you’re one of those bastard kids who always sits in front of me.

I’ve heard people talking about the movie’s ending. If it’s not a surprise, then people say there was a lot of build-up and ultimately no payoff. If it is a surprise, then people say it wasn’t really because they saw it coming from a mile away. Whether or not you — the naive moviegoer — enjoy it will be entirely due to personal preference, so there’s not a lot I can say about it.

What I can say is that Shutter Island is a film that’s got the entire package. You can look at other movies like this month’s Wolfman and point to things that really could have been handled better. And I do think there’s a difference between personal preferences of what you like and dislike and things that truly could have been done differently. There will be people who don’t like this movie’s ending, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t good or that it could have been done any better. If the end of the movie had shown DiCaprio kicking down the doors to Ben Kingsley’s office and saying, “That’s it! We’re shuttering down this island! Hehe! Cuff ’em, Chuck,” then you could say that it could have been better handled. But as it is that isn’t the case. Basically all this distills down to the argument that there are too many people out there who don’t recognize good movies when they see them. Film snobbery? Perhaps. True anyway? Definitely.

Shutter Island is a great blend of noir and psychological thriller. It was a film that I found disturbing and heartwrenching and in the end very appealing. Remember in Gangs of New York, Brendan Gleeson’s big club that he marked notches on every time he smashed someone’s head in? Well, this film is just another notch in Martin Scorsese’s big club, and a testament to what a great director he is. While others lose their fire and do things like launch Indiana Jones through the sky in a refrigerator (seriously, WTF?), he’s still pumping out hits. And if they’re half as good as this one, he can keep them coming. A

Friday Night Lights coming to an end?

Word around the campfire is that the cast of Friday Night Lights have been told that after the show’s fifth season wraps filming in June, they’ll be free to commit to other projects. NBC is saying that nothing’s been made official, but executive producer Jason Katims offered this during a recent news conference…

If it winds up being the final season of the show, then I will feel very, very lucky and grateful that we were able to do as many episodes of a show that is so dear to my heart.

I’ll be sad to see the show end, but if it can go out on its own terms, what we’ll be left with is one of the greatest television dramas ever made and we’ll all be spared from ever seeing it drown in Heroes-esque dumbassery. Because nothing’s been made official, file this one under “rumor.” You can also file it under, “more than likely,” since it’s more than likely to be made official soon. Also, file yourself under “stupid” if you haven’t checked out this show yet.

“Terrible things, Lawrence. You’ve done terrible things.”

The Wolfman has gotten some bad reviews. The last time I checked it had a 29% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Now, most of the time I can read a bad review, watch the movie, and understand why the review was bad. I can’t do it here. I think some of these may be coming in part over expectations of what the movie was supposed to be. I don’t think The Wolfman was meant to be seen as a big summer blockbuster kind of film. Everyone remembers Melville for Moby Dick, but he also wrote Bartleby the Scrivener and Benito Cereno. Short stories that are lesser known but still just as good. The Wolfman is a Bartleby. Without your wolfmen — pardon, wolfmans — there’s nothing to compliment movies like Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Stupid and Avatar.

Although the film is a remake of the 1941 classic The Wolfman, there are several differences between the two. In the new film, Lawrence Talbot returns to his home in England to attend his brother’s funeral. While investigating his death he’s led to a gypsy camp where he’s attacked by a werewolf. After healing from his injuries he discovers that every time the moon is full, he too transforms into the monster and soon thereafter the townspeople and local constable are onto him, trying to stop him from transforming and killing.

The film is as good as it is thanks to its cast. Benicio del Toro stars as the wolfman Lawrence Talbot. Anthony Hopkins is the father whom he returns to and Emily Blunt plays his brother’s grieving almost-widow (what are they called, anyway?). del Toro, who obviously didn’t ask for nor does he want the powers that have been given him can only stand back and watch in horror at the terrible acts he commits. Hopkins plays his role in a way I don’t think we’ve seen since The Silence of the Lambs. He looks at the world and his own power through cool, indifferent eyes. The things he’s capable of simply are. You either stand back or are run over by them. Emily Blunt, who I’ve been dating off and on for several months now, plays a traditional female role in what I thought was a non-traditional way. She doesn’t come off as a damsel in distress. She’s swept up in the events unfolding around her but never seems like she’s being controlled by them. Hugo Weaving plays Inspector Francis Aberline, who’s investigating the wolfman murders. Every time I saw him I couldn’t help but quote lines from The Matrix, but still, have you ever seen this guy in a movie where he wasn’t great?

The film itself has some of the best production values I’ve seen in a long time. To make a period piece feel as authentic as this one did takes a lot of work, and not all movies are able to pull it off. Sherlock Holmes, which is also set in 1891, had a larger budget (marginally larger, but still) and didn’t look as good as this film. I think it drives home the lesson that money spent doesn’t necessarily equal good work. And I’ll go ahead and say that I don’t think the people behind Sherlock didn’t do good work, because they did, it’s just that the people behind The Wolfman did better work.

While The Wolfman is definitely the best film 2010 has offered up so far, it does have its problems. I won’t say that it could have been longer, because it works just fine as a shorter film. A longer runtime may have given things more of a chance to develop, but it also could have slowed things down. While the second half of the film is more action-heavy, I didn’t feel like the first half was slow in any way. For me, the problem wasn’t in its pacing but in the execution of its ending. Every good thing I’ve said about this film holds up until the last twenty minutes. Once you find out Hopkins’ secret — which I won’t spoil here — it doesn’t take much foresight to see where things are headed, and what we ultimately get is an ending that’s pretty mundane, routine, whatever. Only here do Hopkins, del Toro and Blunt fall into more conventional horror movie roles, we get a shot of a full moon and the credits roll. It’s disappointing and I was expecting more, BUT, it didn’t ruin the entire thing for me.

The Wolfman is emotional, frightening, and will have you glued to the screen from the start. While the ending is uninspired, the film is saved by the performances and overall dark tone. And the film holds a special place in my heart because it broke the cycle of Daybreakers, Legion, From Paris with Love BS we’ve been treated to so far this year. B

30 Rock, “Anna Howard Shaw Day”: One word. Oral. Two words. Oral surgery.

Last night’s 30 Rock offered up some laughs, but overall felt like a lot of missed opportunity. The especially guest-star-heavy episode followed Liz’s plans to blow off Valentine’s Day, while Jack met a new woman and Jenna pined after her stalker.

Jon Hamm, Dean Winters and Jason Sudeikis have all put forth great work on 30 Rock, so it was kind of disappointing to see them all come back in what, a combined three minutes of show, and in Liz’s drug-induced hallucination? I wish they had saved some of that and actually had Jon Hamm’s character come back, as his episodes from season three were hilarious and gave us a much better idea of what a great actor he is. The same with Dennis and Floyd. Every episode with Dennis has been funny and it feels like there was never really any closure with Liz and Floyd’s relationship. I thought the episode made much better use of Elizabeth Banks as Craig Jessup, host of the CNBC talk show The Hot Box. I’m interested to see how her relationship with Jack plays out, especially since she seems to be every bit as ruthless as he can be.

While the Liz/Jack storylines were pretty funny, the Jenna storyline felt like the show was just spinning its wheels and filling time. We get that Jenna needs people to pay attention to her, even psychopaths like her stalker. Last night was just another example in a long string of the same stuff, and it would be nice if the writers maybe tried exploring some new territory. There are so many underused characters on the show — underused may be the wrong word, they could be used more — so you’d think they wouldn’t need to recycle what’s essentially the same material again and again.

And speaking of underused characters, the scenes last night with Liz and the writers had some of the funniest lines of the entire episode. Frank telling Liz that if her ghost haunted him it was going to see some disgusting stuff, and Toofer trying to get out of a blind date with an “urban girl.” It seems like we saw more of these characters in the first couple of seasons, and it would be nice if we saw them more than we do now. Overall, last night’s episode had me laughing, but was nowhere near the top of the show’s game.

Stuff I liked:

  • “Happy Valentine’s Day no one!”
  • The very short bit at the beginning with Pete and his daughter. We need to be seeing more of him.