Monday, June 27, 2011

True Blood, season 4 premiere.

Are you *kidding* me?
I tried extremely hard to clean something up for an Examiner article, but I really just don't have any room in a professional sort of capacity to "formally" discuss it; mostly I was trying as hard as I could not to squeal each time Eric came on. . . because DAMN. Yes, I realize I sound like I'm in high school.

Oh, and SPOILERS, a lot.

1. The fairies aren't what they seem. Sookie goes toward the light, gets transported to "the fairy plane," runs into the bellboy from Dallas and her long-gone Granddaddy (who is none other than Bill Lumberg from Office Space) and then doesn't eat the glow-fruit that all the other fairies are handing out to the civilian-clothed humans, which turns out to be a wise choice. They're harvesting human fairies and bringing them to the other side because the (extremely crazy-looking) Fairy Queen ain't having any more exposure; apparently the mass consumption of Sookie's blood (Russell, Bill, Eric) was enough to threaten the existence of the entire fairy race, and that's that. There were some nice effects during Sookie's escape, crazy explosions, harsh and gritty filmmaking, and a collapsing cliff----pretty intense!

2. Rip Van Stackhouse. What seemed like only minutes was actually just over a year in Sookie's life; when she returns she finds her house sold, her brother deputized (proper), and *AAACK,* Eric having to take orders from Bill? Something fishy is going on around here . . .
Looking good, Your Majesty

3. Enemies/Problems. Arlene's baby pulls the heads off Barbie dolls. Hoyt and Jessica's honeymoon is over. There's some crazy-ass witch in town (Fiona Shaw) that has her eye on Lafayette. Tara is an ultimate fighter. Jason makes little headway with the meth-orphans and then gets flung into a deep freeze. Sam seems angry and bitter. Andy Bellefleur is addicted to V.

4. Bill vs. Eric. I was caught completely off guard by what went down between these two; not until the "your majesty" business did I halfway know what end was up. Two shots I loved: Sookie's arrival back to Earth followed by the simultaneous awakening of both vampires in their coffins, and the juxtaposition of Eric's reassurance-inspiring "We're just like You!" video with Bill's ridiculous campaign speech with the elderly and the mayor. There always seemed to be something slippery about Bill, granted, but (call me crazy) there was something wonderfully sinister and alluring about him, now that he's King. Or maybe it was just the shorter hair, I don't know, but Bill was in fine form last night.

5. Final scene: Holeeeeeey shit. I almost don't know what to say. Maybe this: if you are taking your clothes off, and someone reacts the way Eric does to Sookie . . . wow. Just wow. And GOD, yes on the gratuitous bicep flex when he holds up the house key. . . (!)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Sopranos, season 6 (part one), proper.

Like everything else I do, this project has taken a million times longer than I originally planned; almost done, finally! It's a good thing there's so much to talk about in season 6 and I don't have to try very hard to be eloquent.

You might call this the season where the chickens come home to roost. Or more appropriately where the shit hits the proverbial fan. Junior has dementia, loses his top dentures ("I can't find my uppers!") and FUCKING SHOOTS TONY IN THE STOMACH! The image of Junior, all gummy, scampering away after shouting "Melenga!" caught me so off guard the first time I saw it I was thoroughly disturbed for days afterward. This coming on the heels of the season premiere where the guy Tony wouldn't let retire (Eugene Pontecorvo) hangs himself in his basement and dangles there for what seems like forever, kicking, and flailing. Completely harsh and depressing.

So we move from that to Tony's stint in the hospital and what many fans of the show kind of grew weary over----THE DREAM THAT LASTED WHAT, LIKE THREE WEEKS? Tony, in a coma, dreams he picked up the briefcase and wallet of a man named Kevin Finnerty, who looks just like him. He's in a hotel room for some of the dream, staring out at a skyline and a light-revolving beacon (woooo!); sometimes he's in a bar, sometimes he's meeting with these angry monks that are upset that he sold them faulty heating equipment, and so on. I appreciated what they were trying to do with all this, but honestly, I only paid attention to the house (presumably near the beacon, as it was all lit up) where the party was going on. It was, surprise, a similar model of the house Tony dreamed about in season 4, but fancier, and swarming with people this time. The image of the woman was there again, but this time, illuminated. And it still felt horrible to me. If the dream was about the hell that awaits Tony when he dies (as Carmela harkened in the very first episode) then clearly the figure had to be Livia. . . I can't think of anything worse than having to spend eternity with that woman, temperature, demons, and devil himself aside. Yikes.

Anyway, things are bad all around. Bobby Bacala married Janice and they had a baby girl, Domenica.
Johnny Sac is in the clink and gets humiliated at his daughter's wedding.
Paulie finds out his mother wasn't really his mother and that he has prostate cancer.
Vito, a closeted homosexual, is outed by another crew and has to leave New Jersey.
Christopher meets Julianna Skiff in AA; they start an affair and then use heroin together.
Phil Leotardo is still a pyschopath.

There is one moment I very much enjoyed, and it's not at all correct or proper that I did, but when Tony busted the windshield of AJ's truck, I almost jumped up and cheered. Just before, Melfi had been discussing the immaturity of AJ's generation, and that 26 is a more appropriate age to expect adult behavior (instead of 18). Tony walks in on AJ (drinking with friends), explains to him nicely that he's going to start working construction the next morning at 7am, and then, in an extremely calm tone of voice, begins to list off the things that will be taken away from him should he decide not to obey Tony's wishes. AJ smirks and completely blows him off, in the manner with which he has handled his parents from day one, obviously expecting little to no reaction from Tony, "I'd just as soon look for jobs myself, online."

Tony responds, "I'm sure you would." Then walks over to the tool table, grabs either a helmet or a bowling ball, I couldn't really tell, and BUSTS THE TRUCK'S WINDSHIELD WITH IT. "Don't put me to the test," he says, and walks away leaving AJ mortified, looking on. In an earlier conversation in therapy, Melfi pointed out to Tony that Carmela had done (with AJ) what his own mother never did (which he subconsciously hated her for): saved him from his father. But is AJ really better off? Every one of these sons is *completely* disrespectful and worthless. Could it be that what the sons longed for most (interaction with their fathers) was kept at a distance or completely disallowed because of the way the fathers made their living? Did the mothers really save them from anything or just make it horribly worse?Heavy.

I don't like to end heavy, so I'll just add that for some reason, Christopher (Michael Imperioli) was smoking hot this season, and I've never thought that about him before in my life. In the meantime, check out some clips. Foochuck as always did a great trailer:

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Reviews, Living Dead in Dallas.

Here are some of my latest reviews posted on Examiner:
GREEN LANTERN and LOST: IT WASN'T PURGATORY, should you be interested.

And for the record, I so, SO wanted to title the Green Lantern review, "There's hope for Fuck-Ups Yet," but I thought that might be pushing it a little. Just thought you'd like to know, I occasionally show restraint.

Moving On:
Living Dead in Dallas, 2002, by Charlaine Harris.

"Bon Temps' Sookie Stackhouse is employed by Dallas vampires to use her telepathy to find one of their lost companions." (wikipedia).

I really enjoy these books. There's a certain honesty to them, in the dialogues and the characters, that I just dig, a lot. I actually think reading the novels made me like the show more although I do think getting inside Sookie's mind is necessary to love her, and in that, the books are definitely more personal and informative. And I suppose it would be kind of revisionist of me if I didn't admit that Anna Paquin's accent almost completely ruined my experience of the show (in the beginning) but after a while it just sort of grew on me and honestly, I am at the point where I'm so excited for the show I can hardly stand it.

LITERARY MOMENTS IN ERIC NORTHMAN (aka my favorite moments):

"I'll help you into the tub if you like, Sookie," Eric offered.
"Oh, I don't think so." A bath was what I wanted more than anything else in the world, that and to never put on these clothes again, but I sure wasn't taking a bath with Eric anywhere around.
"I'll bet you are a treat, naked, " Eric said, just to boost my spirits.
"You know it. I'm just as tasty as a big eclair," I said.

"Instinctively, I shut my eyes while the blasting lasted. Glass shattered, vampires roared, humans screamed. The noise battered at me, just as the tidal wave of scores of brains at high gear washed over me. When it began to taper off, I looked up into Eric's eyes. Incredibly, he was excited. He smiled at me. "I knew I'd get on top of you somehow."

June 26, people. JUNE 26.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

News, Billy Hicks, The Psychology of The Sopranos

 I'd totally hit that, hair and all.
One last Sopranos book before I (hopefully) finish Season 6 this week; as usual, I'm about three years behind on my to-do list . . . but before I get to that, just thought I'd let you know that I've been given the green light for TELEVISION on Examiner (in addition to film), so you can get the goods on your favorite shows from me! That is, if you just can't get enough of me right here. I suppose this means I'll have to convince Matt to order HBO in time for True Blood in a few weeks . . . (giddy clapping hands, TEAM ERIC).

ALSO: what is with Billy Hicks always making the popular posts list? Are there honestly people out there (besides me) who google BILLY HICKS? And get led to my blog? I mean, if you're telling me you want me to properly review St. Elmo's Fire, complete with write up of Billy Hicks and his contributions to the film and all other eighties culture relevancies, YOU'VE GOT A DEAL. And since only five people sent/gave me proper recommendations, I'm going to have to let this business speak for itself.

 Look for Billy Hicks, Proper in a couple of weeks, in addition to:

1. Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead
2. Baghdad Cafe
3. Rubber
4. Cedar Rapids
5. Lovely, Still
6. Troll Hunter.

Moving on:
The Psychology of The Sopranos: Love, Death, Desire, and Betrayal in America's Favorite Gangster Family, 2002, by Glen O. Gabbard, M.D.

Interesting. Amusing. I mean, I kind of think shrinks are mostly ridiculous, but at least this one was interesting enough to like The Sopranos. Honestly, the chapter titles were what I liked the best,

1. Bada Being and Nothingness
2. Tony's Ailment: Janus in Jersey
3. Tony's therapy: Flirting With Disaster
4. Is Tony Treatable?
5. Medea, Oedipus, and Other Family Myths
6. Scenes From A Marriage: Godfather Knows Best
7. The Lost Boys

There are other good things, too. Since he's a shrink himself, the author does a really bang up job comparing the issues of the show to actual (anonymous) clients that he's treated himself ("I had a patient once who had similar issues"). Also, he does a good job of clarifying medical terminology or conditions in their real-word (not cinematic) environments and explains things like true psychopaths, borderline personalities, or Oedipus complexes. (Incidentally, "Both Richie Aprile and Ralph Cifaretto are probably psychopaths.")

There's a good bit on the episode "Employee of the Month," (Dr. Melfi's rape) which is one of the most disturbing and memorable episodes in the series:

"The audience is one hundred percent behind Jennifer. When she was raped, viewers were viscerally affected: Colleagues of mine said they felt like it had happened to them or a friend. So the rape drives The Sopranos audience into a feeding frenzy. They are dying for Melfi to use her transference over Tony to have him rub out the rapist. In the last scene of the episode, she begins to cry, and Tony goes over to her and puts his arm around her to comfort her. She talks through her tears and asks him to sit down again. Tony asks, 'You want to say something?' The viewers, now on their feet screaming 'Yes!' are clamoring for Jennifer to authorize the whack. Instead she says, 'No.'"

Obviously there is no shortage of material for the Medea chapter (hadn't read that myth before . . . um, yikes), this section of the book was a little difficult (I still haven't reached the point where mothers killing their children is tolerable reading). My general feeling about it is that it shed too true a light on the actual psychological conditions we see in this show, and I didn't really like that . . . it's one thing to watch violence and dysfunction and abuse on a show or film, someone's STORY, but reading about the real life relevance is not exactly my idea of entertainment.

An interesting book. Not very optimistic, though.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Super 8.

My review for Examiner is up, if you're interested. And I did find the film to be super.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Rite. and Um . . .

I tried to watch this last night and completely wimped out on it. Has anyone seen it all the way through? I don't understand why I've become such a baby with scary movies lately, I used to eat pieces of shit like this for breakfast. (You eat pieces of shit for breakfast?)

ALSO! Just popping onto IMDB for a rundown of what's happening in film and some images I needed when I see the FRIGHT NIGHT remake ad? Um, no one told me Collin Farrell was playing Jerry Dandridge, are you Goddamned KIDDING ME? Like Eric Northman, BUT COLLIN FARRELL. I'm hoping the August 19 release date, that I have circled on my calendar with an enormous heart, does not coincide with any peak fertility days (because damn . . . )

Out of curiosity, I wonder who's playing Evil Ed? And will Marcy Darcy be making a cameo?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Indy 1, Indy 2, I like Indy 3 . . .

Aw hell, now we're out of water! 
If you like Indiana Jones, you should check this out. My friend Donald put together a sweet list of the top ten death scenes in all four Indiana Jones films; it's great fun.