Monday, July 25, 2011

Gratitude. Sookie. Walter White.

Okay, first off, Blogger's new "stats" option? (hell, it might not even be new, but I clicked it today, and wow!) AMAZING! I was trying like hell to find Google AdSense, which I never really did, but I checked out my stats today? I learned a TON! Outside the USA, I have the most readers from Turkey, Argentina, Germany, Portugal, and Lithuania! The majority of my readers are seeing my stuff on Windows OS, the most common search phrases were "GANNICUS" and "Dr. Melfi Gets Raped." Networked Blogs really does drive traffic over here, (so does LYNXYMAMA, so Thanks, Lisha!) teşekkür ederim, Gracias, vielen Dank, muito Obrigada, Labai achiu! I love every last one of you.

See what I mean?

More good news: True Blood last night? Hand-holding, orchestral score, "Eric, please don't go!" I don't care if he was wearing a Jason Stackhouse outfit, daaaaaaaaamn! Loved Tommy's little change-up in the van, Jason's Jessica-fantasies, and Arlene and Terry *dressing up* for the little faux-exorcism. I don't trust Debbie Pelt, not one bit. And please, please, PLEASE help my girl Pam get her face right again! Although her closing scene was great, that makeup was almost like something out of The Twilight Zone.

And Breaking Bad? I don't really remember much other than Walter sitting in the chair, practicing his draw. Scenes like that, the closeup of him, then the gun, suddenly---get me extremely excited. Twenty million for the carwash, hey, Skylar? Sounds like you won't be laundering money there anytime soon. Better call Saul.

(I love the Heisenberg Walter White. A lot).

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Billy Hicks, Proper.

Saint Elmo's Fire, 1985.
written and directed by Joel Schumacher.
starring: Rob Lowe, Demi Moore, Andrew McCarthy, Ally Sheedy, Emilio Estevez, Mare Winningham, Judd Nelson

"Group of friends, just out of college, struggle with adulthood. Their main problem is that they're all self-centered and obnoxious." (imdb).

This film is so ridiculous, you can't go your life without seeing it, especially if you grew up during the eighties. Nice video, right? And I suppose there is some small, valid, cultural significance of just how stereotypically eighties it is, fashion, Republican politics, money, cocaine, feminism, etc., but even these things are so caricatured and written in so poor a narrative, the dialogue from Purple Rain starts to look smart, by comparison. 

This is largely a film about nothing, or nothing important, anyway. It's the story of seven immature white kids, who have silly little high school problems, only after college graduation. Jules (Demi Moore) has a dying stepmother and financial problems; Wendy (Mare Winningham) has fat thighs and a thing for Billy. Billy (Rob Lowe) is irresponsible and has a problem keeping his dick in his pants, apparently having (sexually) gone through most of the women in his inner circle, knocking up a girl named Felicia, and coining utterances such as, "this face seats five," to groups of women he meets at the bar. The rest of them (McCarthy, Nelson, Sheedy, and Estevez) are kind of dull, honestly, not to mention annoying.

The story starts with a car crash, progresses through a series of lost jobs, misguided (obsessive) affections, a stint at a homeless shelter, endless hot pink evening gowns, cocaine, and let's not forget, Andrew McCarthy's *nauseating* sex scene---ending finally with the group (minus Billy) making plans for Sunday brunch in front of their old hangout. Oh aren't we so old and boring? We worldly, 22 year old Georgetown graduates? And how the hell did Billy Hicks get into Georgetown, anyway?

My cousin Heidi had this poster, or one like it. 
My favorite moments of ridiculousness:

The girl at the bar (recipient of aforementioned comment re: mustache rides by Billy) just apparently helps herself to his sax and is tooting it around the bar as the group walks by during "I like a girl who drinks." (??)

"Let's Rock" in conversational tone by Billy, during Halloween performance.

Billy's wife gets to make out with Wolfman from Top Gun, subsequent "Billy!" after the barroom brawl develops.

Leslie's (Ally Sheedy) two inch hair-length discrepancies in various scenes throughout.

Dialogue such as, "Men, can't live with 'em, can't shoot 'em." "Let's get trashed anyways!" and the ever-popular, "Ah-booga, booga, booga, ah, ah, ah!" Seriously.

The fact that Billy wears not one, but often two fraternity jackets in almost all of his scenes.

In probably the grossest sex scene of all the eighties, (between McCarthy and Sheedy), he makes a large point of needing to get her front-closing bra off (gag) but yet she KEEPS THE PEARL NECKLACE ON THROUGHOUT. Naked but for pearl necklace in shower sex scene when she randomly knocks over the plastic shower door. (?) Come on.

Matt's comments:
I was trying to figure out Sheedy's character's name (Leslie), and I asked him, "What's that chick's name again?" "TWAT WAFFLE," he replies. This was only about 14 minutes in and he was already getting bitchy. Later, as Jules is describing how her father hates her, "Sounds like Jules has a great life ahead of her. In porn." After sitting through the whole film he finally just looks at me, angrily, and says, "Jesus Christ. How does something like that even happen?" Then stomped away. But then later came into bed in faux-excitement, informing me that the disk "had extras." Super.

Saturday, July 23, 2011


I didn't see anything in the theater this weekend so I get to hole up, make myself fun mixed drinks, write (this) with the pressure off and watch ST ELMO'S FIRE tonight. (Let's Rock! in conversational tone).

Dead to the World, 2004, by Charlaine Harris.

"Sookie aids vampires Eric and Pam in their struggle against a coven of witches seeking to take over control of their area, and takes care of Eric after the witches erase his memory." (wikipedia).

First off, I'm very much a fan of Ms. Harris and the Southern Vampire Series, so you kind of have to chill about what I'm about to say and let me say it without getting all pissy about it: I loved what happened in this book, but the writing unfortunately was not her best. It's a hard thing, balancing extreme and full plot lines with competent dialogue (that doesn't seem cheesy, forced, or redundant) and adequate spaces in between action parts, or resting points, if you will. I know it's hard. But because so much happened in this novel, much of it felt hurried, especially the dialogues. I needed a breaths or breaks that didn't come often enough, maybe. I loved the book, and was scrambling to read it every night, so it wasn't a huge problem, more of a nit-pick, I suppose.

The southern Sookie-colloquialisms were great, and the blunt and honest interior monologues from Sookie were right on:

"I wondered if I could get some witch to cast a truth spell on Debbie Pelt, whom I despised because she had been cruel to Alcide, insulted me grievously, burned a hole in my favorite wrap and---oh---tried to kill me by proxy. Also, she had stupid hair."

"I sighed. Jason could find potential bedmates anywhere. He was going to end up with some unpleasant disease (if he hadn't already) or slapped with a paternity suit, and there was nothing I could do about it except watch it happen."

Without ruining too much for anyone else, there is another plot line that happens, romantically, that I (and probably others) have been waiting three novels for, when it finally happened . . . damn. (SKOAL, SOOKIE!) Loved the ending. LOVED it. I can't wait to see how this plays out on True Blood.

Willa Cather, 24 Stories.

I got this at Half-Price and picked it up after Roger Ebert recommended Cather over Rand (not to me, personally, but in general). The stories included are: Peter (1892), Lou, The Prophet (1892), A Tale of the White Pyramid (1892), The Elopement of Allen Poole (1893), The Clemency of the Court (1893), On the Divide (1896), A Night at Greenway Court (1896), Tommy the Unsentimental (1896), The Burgler's Christmas (1896), Nanette: An Aside (1897), Eric Hermannson's Soul (1900), The Sentimentality of William Tavener (1900), A Singer's Romance (1900), The Professor's Commencement (1902), The Treasure of Far Island (1902), The Namesake (1907), The Profile (1907), The Willing Muse (1907), Eleanore's House (1907), On the Gulls' Road (1908), The Enchanted Bluff (1909), The Joy of Nelly Deane (1911), Behind the Singer Tower (1912), and The Bohemian Girl (1912).

They're all extremely good, and right up my alley, but the last one (The Bohemian Girl) got me. Big time.

"Nils looked sideways at her. He had never seen her head droop before. Resignation was the last thing he would have expected of her. "In your case, there wasn't something else?"
"Something else?"
"I mean, you didn't do it to spite somebody? Somebody who didn't come back?"
Clara drew herself up. "Oh, I never thought you'd come back. Not after I stopped writing to you, at least. That was all over long before I married Olaf."
"It never occurred to you, then, that the meanest you could do to me was to marry Olaf?"

and later, "What's become of your Bohemian blood? I used to think you had courage enough for anything. Where's your nerve---what are you waiting for?"
Clara drew back her head, and he saw the slumberous fire in her eyes. "For you to say one thing, Nils Ericson."
"I never say that thing to any woman, Clara Vavrika." He leaned back, lifted her gently from the ground, and whispered through his teeth, "But I'll never, never let you go, not to any man on Earth but me! Do you understand me?"

Skillfully written sentimentality and denied love. My favorites.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Bagdad Cafe

This is a recommendation from my friend, Veneta, and somehow just what I needed last night. You know, sometimes I get lost (ha ha) in all the blood, meth, booze, and dysfunctional Irish firemen I watch so much of; this was just a nice, more tender change of pace (although there was profanity and some nudity).

Bagdad Cafe, 1987.
Written/directed by Percy Adlon.
starring: Marianne Sagebrecht, CCH Pounder, Jack Palance.

"A lonely German woman ends up in the most desolated motel on earth and decides to make it brighter." (IMDB).

This is unlike anything else I've ever written about on here (with the exception of maybe some random Fellini), but extremely worth watching. First off, I have always been a fan of CCH Pounder, mostly supporting roles (Sliver, Psycho 4, ER), but I like her. She has just always got this commanding authority about her, and she had that in this, too, but mostly just ran around her cafe yelling at people. German actress Marianne Sagebrecht was amazing as the mild mannered tourist, offset brilliantly by Jack Palance's eccentric artist character; they were all really fun to watch.

The film itself is sort of unique in that it's a foreign (German) production with a mostly American cast. You can't really escape that you're watching a foreign production---shots, reactions, interludes, and that tiny bit of nudity (of an older, heavier actress)---these things just don't really happen in American films, even in 1987, and that's why I felt justified in that earlier (obscure) Fellini reference. The film has fun with itself while still being an emotional story about two very different women.

Two moments I loved: "This is not coffee, it's brown water!" after the (American) coffee maker gets delivered. For someone who can't drink coffee out of anything but a French press, it was perfect. And you know I loved that little bald baby being passed around in his footy jammies; that'll be me, the old German broad in cafes, begging mothers to let me hold their babies someday, too.

Thanks, V.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

True Blood: I'm Alive and On Fire

Horrible, HORRIBLE news! ((spoilers))

Now those witches have messed with BOTH my favorite people on True Blood and I'm starting to get pissy. Eric empty-headed and Pam with a rotting face? Unforgivable. I just happen to be reading "Dead To The World" right now, simultaneously, and I just need to know that things will be right again . . . those witches are gross. Go away.

And how about little Mikey, NOT YOUR BABY on the wall with the red marker? (redrum?) Nice. Oh, and congratulations on screwing your great-great-great-great (great-great) granddaughter, Bill.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Serial Mom, Tommy Gavin, Walter White.

This one is from my brother, who didn't actually recommend it officially, but I'm taking the liberty in suggesting one that he would have recommended, had he had the time.

Serial Mom, 1992, written and directed by John Waters.
starring: Kathleen Turner, Sam Waterston, Ricki Lake.

"A sweet mother takes a little too much at heart for the defense of her family." (imdb).

As far as John Waters films go, this one is pretty tame. It's silly and inappropriate, but it's actually really funny. To be a suburban housewife, cooking, recycling, watching birds, and prank-calling the bitch who stole your spot at the grocery store? "Is this the cocksucker residence? 402 Pussy Way? Let me get the zip code right, 2-1-2-FUCK YOU?" Poor Dotty Hinkel. The reaction outside the window of The Sturbers' eating was classic, as was the little "REWIND!" coda (pictured left) that came after bashing old Emma Lou to death with the leg of lamb. And uh, nice energetic sex scene between Turner and Waterston, despite their being old (!) it was still hilarious.

Rescue Me premiere: Janet's pregnant; Colleen is off the wagon (what's new). Damian is not able to walk or talk after the incident with the table saw in last season's finale; through all that has happened, Sheila and Janet have decided to bury the hatchet and are now close friends (?) Black Sean proposes to Colleen. Oh, and Tommy is convinced that Damian blames him for the accident (imagining Damian coming at him with a knife). Happy times as always. (What a downer).

Breaking Bad premiere: Damn. These meth-capitalists can be so touchy! Gayle was just a chemist who wanted to make the best product possible; Walter's bag of 99% pure blue just really messed that up for him, didn't it? Too bad. And would it be insensitive of me to add that all I could focus on for the last ten minutes of the episode was Pinkman's Grand Slam Breakfast at Denny's? WITH ORANGE SODA? Damn, that looked good. Too bad about Hank, he seems very unhappy. (What a downer).

I did not get to see True Blood last night as my Harry Potter review took ages longer than I had planned, and I ended up missing the 10pm encore performance. Which sucks; I need more Eric Northman in my life.

Alexander wins the best vampire poll, by the way. Man, people got moody about that! I guess I'll have to stick to one program from now on? (rrrrrrrrr).

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

This was a recommendation from my father-in-law; he brought it to me while we were all on vacation a few weeks ago. I was skeptical at first as I didn't really know how I felt about mashup novels but I trusted his judgement . . . and I loved it. LOVED it! It might be in my top five books, ever. I highly, highly recommend it. It's smart, it's well-paced and well-structured, and the ending (of course) had me bawling. A very clever story.

Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, 2010, by Seth Grahame-Smith.

"The epistolary-style book is written as a biography of Abraham Lincoln, based on "secret diaries" kept by the 16th President and given to the author by a vampire named Henry Sturges." (wikipedia).

"But for all of Henry's lessons, nothing was more valuable than the time we spent trying to kill each other. At first I had been astonished by his speed and strength---convinced there was no way I would ever be its equal. Over time, however, I noticed that it took him longer and longer to subdue me. I even found myself landing the occasional strike. Soon it was not uncommon for me to best him three times out of ten."

"Have you ever wondered why? Why a vampire takes such an interest in ridding the earth of his own kind? Why he sends a man to kill in his stead? Or have you simply done his bidding blindly---the unquestioning, undyingly loyal servant?"

"I serve no man but myself," said Abe.

The barkeep laughed. "Avowed as only an American could." (!!!)

Clever and fun. You should check it out. Or if you're someone who prefers true history, buy the Zinn, because honestly, it's just as horrifying.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, repost.

The Book:

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J. K. Rowling, 2007.

I read it shortly after its release, at my mother's house in Olivia while we waited for what ended up being close to three full months as our house was put back together after a roofer ruined it. But that's another post. I am sad to say that on my first reading, I missed probably 40% of what really happened simply because I wanted to get to the end, to finish it, because I was that jazzed about knowing how it would all wrap up, so I speed-read and finished it in probably a day or two.  I was emotional, more then than I am now as I was five months preggo and concerned about the house and all that was going on, but I'm pretty sure that I cried from about the twenty-third chapter on to the end. As I felt with LOST, Rowling could have pretty much wrote any damned thing, no matter how ridiculous, and I would have swallowed it happily. It's sad when things you like come to an end, granted, we all need closure and catharsis, but it's still a bittersweet thing. There are cheesy things about this book, this specific, final installment of the series, but I swallowed them happily.

My very, very favorite passage:

"He closed his eyes and turned the stone over in his hand three times. . . Lily's smile was widest of all. She pushed her long hair back as she drew close to him, and her green eyes, so like his, searched his face hungrily, as though she would never be able to look at him enough.
'You've been so brave.'
He could not speak. His eyes feasted on her, and he thought that he would like to stand and look at her forever, and that would be enough."

I can't read it without crying.

And while I appreciate the recurring, snappy little bits of prose that have been part of the series from the beginning ("Ron agreed with the sole proviso that their next move took them within reach of a bacon sandwich," or "Snape flapped after the girls, looking ludicrously bat-like, like his older self.") it's the story of these people that really captured me.

The Film:

Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, part one, 2010, directed by David Yates.

This, more than any other, was a film for fans of the book. If you didn't like the book, it's almost certain that you will not like this film. The thing I liked most about this film was its subtlety. If you know what's happened and you know what's coming, then you will see this film as a brilliant Valentine to the book, and all of the books previous. If you don't know the names of the characters (and if this bothers you), then you have no business being in the theater. Each time a supporting character, old or new, is introduced, the writers have done their homework; there is just enough background given or somehow otherwise referenced that we still feel as though we're in the loop.

Ollivander: Wandmaker. Owns Ollivander's Wand Shop. You should remember him. Also referenced by the woman being interrogated by Dolores Umbridge at the Ministry; "I didn't steal my wand, I got it at Ollivander's!"

Elphias Dodge: Friend of Dumbledore's. Wrote obituary in Daily Profit shown in one of Harry's first scenes before he leaves Privet Drive (camera lingers on name and photo in an obvious way). Speaks with Harry at Fleur and Bill's wedding. Mentions Aberforth Dumbledore, who will become important in next film.

Xenophilius Lovegood: should need no explaining at all.

Bathilda Bagshot: Writer of History of Magic. Referenced by Elphias Dodge and Aunt Muriel at Fleur and Bill's wedding.

This is a great film because they refuse to spoon-feed you. There is subtlety (certain scenes just end and fade to black as though they were little vignettes), there is comedy (Mad Eye Moody in the flight of the 7 Harrys and dialogue, George Weasley's silent expression changes as he watches Harry and Ginny make out), and dammit, there IS action.

The opening sequence at Malfoy's ends with Nagini eating the Muggle Studies professor; it's played down, but the snake is interesting. Flight of the 7 Harrys; it's tense and exciting. The revelation of Kreacher's secret and his subsequent capture of Mundungus Fletcher; this is not exactly Michael Bay-style jets flying over a salute-level action, but it's interesting, and driving! The Ministry of Magic. Encountering Nagini at Godric's Hollow. The Destruction of the Horcrux. Bellatrix at Malfoy Manor. The Animated re-telling of the story of the three brothers. Voldemort has the Elder Wand.

I hadn't ever been to a film on opening night before; experiencing this was amazing. There was applause (mostly for DOBBY!), there were tense, hushed speculations being reasoned (whose patronus led Harry to the sword?) and there were sniffs and tears (I'm thinking mine were probably the loudest). I had a great time. And while I honestly *cannot wait* for the second installment of the film, I have a very strong suspicion that I will walk into the theater, sit down, open my bag of skittles, and promptly start bawling because I will not want it to end. I made bets with myself during the night of LOST'S finale as to just how long I'd be able to keep it together-----I watched the special before the actual feature, you know, the ones where fans wrote in their LOST goodbyes and they edited them onto scenes from the show? Yeah, complete water works.

To be continued in July. . .

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Dallas Trailer!!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Sookie: You Smell Like Dinner

Oh Hell no . . .
UGH! What a horribly frustrating episode! My girl Pam has got it all figured out, doesn't she? BILL KNEW IT WOULD HAPPEN! I mean, I am completely fine with Eric prancing around shirtless---for a while--- but this nice-guy sap has got to go! I am waiting for two things to happen: Pam to pull some crazy-vamp kick-ass "oh no you didn't just mess with my maker" business on those nasty witches, and for Sookie, having learned to identify more with Eric's softer side, to *finally* get up on that (after he's back to his naughty bad real self, of course).

also: After Sookie told Pam (last week) that she wasn't interested in being Eric's puppet, Pam said, "Shame for you; he pulls good string." Was Pam speaking from an observational standpoint, or have they, you know, done it? Is that allowed between maker and progeny? Because, damn.

And poor Jason; things just went from bad to worse. One of my favorite utterances on the show has become Andy Bellefleur's constant growling, "STACKHOUSE!" on the phone or in person, or sometimes, "GOD DAMMIT, STACKHOUSE!" It's like the best name ever to be yelled with a southern accent----Staackhaaawse!

Speaking of southern accents: don't forget to switch TNT on tonight during The Closer or Rizzoli and Isles to catch the DALLAS trailer! And for a bit more on True Blood, week to week (with better photographs and video) check out my Bites from Bon Temps updates on Examiner.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Vamp Literature.

Club Dead, 2003, by Charlaine Harris

"Sookie's boyfriend Bill disappears while working on a secret project, and Sookie heads out to Jackson, Mississippi in hopes of retrieving him alive. In this quest, she enlists the aid of a werewolfAlcide Herveaux, and of vampire Eric." (wikipedia)

Dug it, dug it lots. But man, Bill is just kind of a dick in this one, isn't he? First the secretive nature with all the vampire database business and then the tomfoolery with Lorena (which was much more intense and detailed in the show) not to mention the (I suppose you could call it) date rape inside the trunk of the Lincoln? Jeez. Eric, Eric, ERIC! Who's a little sneaky, too, but at least less dickish and more helpful to Sookie in times of need (refinished driveway).

"When I woke, it was dark again, and Bill was in bed with me. Oh, thank God! Relief swept over me. Now all would be well. I felt his cool body behind me, and I rolled over, half asleep, and put my arms around him. He eased up my long nylon gown, and his hand stroked my leg. I put my head against his silent chest and nuzzled him. His arms tightened around me, he pressed firmly against me, and I sighed with joy, inserting a hand between us to unfasten his pants. Everything was back to normal. 

Except he smelled different. 

My eyes flew open, and I pushed back against rock hard shoulders. I let out a little squeak of horror.

"It's me," said a familiar voice. 

"Eric! What are you doing here?"

I think I was reading this passage in the bath and then whooped out a huge, "YES!" There were a few more of those moments throughout; reading about Eric is nearly as much fun as actually watching him . . . . Next up, Dead to the World.

Salem's Lot, 1975, by Stephen King.

"Ben Mears returns to the town where he lived as a boy between the ages of 9 through 13 (Jerusalem's Lot, or 'Salem's Lot for short) in MaineNew England, to discover that the residents are all becoming vampires." (wikipedia).

I think this might be my very favorite vampire book, although I Am Legend would be an extremely close second. I read this years ago and only remember something ominous about a stairway; it was a very unpleasant surprise reading it again, but evil and clever, too. I have to say that reading about King's writer characters is probably my favorite thing in the world because you know damned well he's filling them with literal business from his own life; I think he basically writes about himself and then adds scary shit just for filler, honestly. And I'm not saying it doesn't work, because it does----but that it's somehow more meaningful, maybe.

"He wrote quickly, without thinking: For Susan Norton, the prettiest girl in the park. Warm regards, Ben Mears. He added the date below his signature in slashed notation.

"Now you'll have to steal it," he said, handing it back. "Air Dance is out of print, alas." She hesitated, and this time her glance at his eyes was a little longer. "It's an awfully good book." 
"Thanks. When I take it down and look at it, I wonder how it ever got published."

or "All writers like to talk about their books. Sometimes when I'm lying in bed at night I make up a Playboy interview about me. Waste of time. They only do authors if their books are big on campus."

or "Kind of touchy, ain't you? For a man who means his books to be read?"
"When it's gone through three drafts, editorial correction, galley-proof corrections, final set and print, I'll personally see that you get four copies. Right now that comes under the heading of private papers."

But the scary stuff is pretty significant, too, and described in a way that I found to be pretty damned brilliant:

" . . . he found himself reflecting ---not for the first time--- on the peculiarity of adults. They took laxatives, liquor, or sleeping pills to drive away their terrors so that sleep would come, and their terrors were so tame and domestic: the job, the money, what the teacher will think if I can't get Jennie nicer clothes, does my wife still love me, who are my friends. They were pallid compared to the fears every child lies cheek and jowls with in his dark bed, with no one to confess to in hope of perfect understanding but another child. There is no group therapy or psychiatry or community social services for the child who must cope with the thing under the bed or in the cellar every night, the thing which leers and capers and threatens just beyond the point where vision will reach. The same lonely battle must be fought night after night and the only cure is the eventual ossification of the imaginary facilities, and this is called adulthood." 

But not necessarily everyone's adulthood. I'm well into my thirties and have slept with the light on halfway since the film list last October and full on since seeing Insidious and am not planning to turn it off anytime in the next ten years. . . .

Friday, July 8, 2011

Recommendations: Matt's and Mine

I'm waiting for Netflix to function again in order to start your recommendations. In the meantime, I'll give you some from my own house. I'm sorry to say that I don't share Matt's enthusiasm with this first one, like, at all, but he recommends it all the same:
What. A. Disaster.

Miami Vice, 2006, directed by Michael Mann.
written by Michael Mann
starring: Colin Farrel, Jamie Foxx, Li Gong.

"Based on the 1980's TV action/drama, this update focuses on vice detectives Crockett and Tubbs as their respective personal and professional lives become dangerously intertwined." (IMDB).

Sometimes people just have irrational aversions to things; my mother, for instance, had a quite unnatural hate for Phil Collins that I never figured out. I have unnatural hate for this film, and it's hard to hate something, a lot, that your spouse really enjoys, but I really can't tolerate this film at all. I tried my damndest last night but as always, I cut out about halfway through.

This is why:

1. I found it confusing. I'm no simpleton when it comes to narratives, I'm a fucking writer for Christ's sake, but the first hour of this film was completely sideways with itself. Are they feds, or are they VICE? Is Trudy an agent or is she just the chick that Rico is banging? Rico and Sonny (Foxx and Farrel) are deputized and instantly put undercover as drug traffickers just because of some CI's random involvement with meth-dealing skinheads? And what the hell is with all those photographs of the CI with them? Is that common practice? As in, here's our *confidential informant,* as shown here in these photographs *with federal agents* jeez, we hope none of the bad guys have moles in our agency who might, you know, SEE THIS? Stupes. I don't know, maybe 24 has ruined me and all suspension of disbelief, but come on. Tighten that shit up!

2. I found the casting of secondary characters to be downright awful. I can't really express this without seeming a little . . . insensitive, and so be it, but that woman (Isabella) should have been of Latina or African descent. Having the character be Asian was just extremely jarring and was pretty much the world's biggest speed bump, although Lucy Liu probably would have been loads better. I just didn't really believe her, at all. Her facial expressions looked like she was in pain for many of the scenes, her hair was a rat's nest, her lips were noticeably dry, and her fingernails looked like mine used to when my violin professor made me chop them down to the fricking quick. I'm not trying to be superficial because she was beautiful, but if you're trying to convince me that this chick has any sort of power or is sexually magnetic, you missed the boat completely. Likewise, Sonny just taking off in the boat with her after seeing her twice? Dumb. "I know what I'm doing," he says to Rico. No, you don't, and no, the screenwriter didn't either because not banging THE BOSS'S WIFE is probably the first thing they teach in fake drug trafficking school. Even Tony Montana waited until Frank was dead to officially move in on Elvira.

And speaking of the boss; I kind of get that they were trying for a Castro-ish sort of look on that guy, but honestly he looked more Afghani than anything. Boo.

3. I felt like Jamie Foxx was marginalized (for what I saw, anyway). Here I thought initially that he and Farrel were going to be sharing the screen, and for a while they did, but when it became more about Sonny and Isabella things really started to tank. Foxx is an Oscar winner, yo, utilize that shit! Calypso
(Naomie Harris) was good, too, but given kind of a too-small role, considering.

There are two parts I liked: the comedy in Rico's faux-premature ejaculation scene with Trudy, and the three-chord synth and orchestral instrumental (reminiscent of the original television show) during the first drug run in the planes out of Columbia. Other than that . . . goo.

I've been there, Walter.
So here's mine:

The Money Pit, 1986, directed by Richard Benjamin.
written by: David Giler
starring: Tom Hanks, Shelley Long

"A young couple struggles to repair a hopelessly dilapidated house." (IMDB).

If you were alive in the eighties, chances are you saw this already, but if you haven't, you really should check this out. You probably are getting by now that I'm a stupid sucker for 80s comedy, (Porky's, Bachelor Party, St. Elmo's Fire, etc.) but Tom Hanks is a very gifted comedic performer--- this is one of his all-time best as far as I'm concerned. It's not raunchy and there isn't much cursing, but (yes, this is uncharacteristic of me) it's good, clean fun. You can watch it with your Grandmother and you'll both probably laugh. Also, if you've ever had to do major home improvements, this film (though a bit dated) will ring with many, many horrible truisms ("Two weeks? You can rebuild all this in two weeks?" or "Ahhh! Home Crap Home!")

Walter Fielding (Hanks) gets all the best lines and reactions:

"I'd help you with that, but someone stepped on all my fingers."
"Well, thanks to that fall, we're now the same height."
"Are you guys testing missiles here, or what?" "Yes, as a matter of fact, we are."
"And now I have to go down to his office tomorrow morning and kiss his ass . . . "
"We have weak trees."

And he doesn't lack in the physical scenes, either. The hammering thumb on steps scene (reaction). The getting stuck in the floor scene (wave). The interaction with the carpenter (Joe Mantagna). The adventurous ride down the scaffold while coated in plaster, and my personal favorite, the entire Benny scene . . . enjoy!

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Sopranos, season 6, part two, proper.

I finally finished. And I will again stand by my previous statements; this is honestly one of the best shows created. Anthony, it hasn't always been easy, but I'm really going to miss you. 

So how do things wind down in the second half of season six? 

Melfi can't handle the peer pressure from her shrink friends and dumps Tony as a patient just after his son's suicide attempt. As he's leaving, he says to her, "I think what you're doing, as a doctor, is immoral," then stuffs a steak recipe he had earlier stolen back into one of her expensive magazines in the waiting room and storms out. It made me not like her. 

AJ is a wreck, attempts suicide and is hospitalized. "He was our happy little boy," Carmela weeps as they all watch his psychiatrist wheel him away. I loathe AJ but this was difficult and emotional for me to watch.

Phil Leotardo takes out Bobby Bacala and severely wounds Silvio; Paulie is basically the last man standing in Tony's crew. The FBI aspect (watching this time around) was important, as Agent Harris, currently working terrorism but still with a soft spot for Tony, is instrumental in Tony's overall survival and triumph over Phil. The decline of Agent Harris was a little sad, considering he really seemed to enjoy his work back when he was planting bugging devices and hanging around Satriales just like one of the guys. First came the parasite from Pakistan then the longer, more stressful hours, and strain on his wife---the poor guy looked just beaten down by the end. One of my *very* favorite scenes in the entire show (linked to another from season 2 that shows Harris's obvious fondness for Tony) was when, after hearing of Phil Leotardo's death, Harris jumps up from his desk shouting, "YES! We're gonna WIN THIS THING!" I don't think there's any two ways about what he says---he means TONY, not the FBI. How sweet. 

The Finale: There are so many things about this that are brilliant, not the least being its ambiguity, but I was one of the three people who really loved the way the show ended, and loved it even more after watching it a second time. 

If Tony Lives, the family reoccupies their places around a table, eating, just as they did at the finale of the first season. AJ said just before Meadow arrived that they should remember the good times, as Tony did previously at Vesuvio. Meadow chooses a law career, focusing on civil rights of minority groups; AJ had formerly been interested in a military or intelligence career in order to fight terrorism but then accepts Tony's help in launching into film (via Little Carmine). The bigger theme here ("Made in America") is that both Tony's children, while at first insistent in putting as much space between themselves and Tony and Tony's livelihood as possible, completely turn around and choose careers that intertwine them deeper to him, Meadow, criminal law and AJ, the family business as Carmine Lupertazzi's development assistant. They grew up with advantages, had opportunities to leave, and both chose to stay. Tony Soprano is at root, a family man and life goes on.

If Tony Dies, the link to gangster cinema is firm, and precursors from The Godfather (beginning all the way back with that orange cat) abound. As there is no one left on Phil's crew, the hit had to be authorized by Carmine or another New York family, and that particular bit isn't all too clear or motivated, but there are a few things that can't really be ignored. The lingering white hoodlum-type gets up and goes to the bathroom just as Michael Corleone went into the bathroom before hitting the table of cops in the restaurant. Why? Just before the very end, two African American men, a little gangster-ish, come wandering in and will presumably walk directly past Tony's table. Why? These are conscious choices made by David Chase, and significant ones, just as the fact that Meadow can't quite get her car parked in a spot twenty-five feet wide on the street is significant. There was happiness at the table, and as far as conversations with AJ had gone in the past, the mood was downright chipper. Journey plays on the juke "Don't Stop Believin;" and they all enjoy the best onion rings in New Jersey. If Tony and the rest of the family gets clipped in the diner, they die happy or having at least experienced good times, as Tony had hoped for his family. In ending that way, Tony Soprano becomes at root, The Godfather and his story, epic.

My own personal thoughts on the finale are that I don't care which is true, only that Tony picked that song and that it started when Carmela walked in. (Matt sang this to me when I was 18, waiting tables at the Sheep Shedde).