December 15, 2011

Best of 2011: Music

The best songs got that emotional kick to them. Sometimes certain songs have the benefit of being featured in films or TV shows that just make them immortal. In 2011 there were three tracks, one from a movie, one from a TV show, and one completely original from an album that really just blew me away.

Pictures in my Head from The Muppets
I never watched the Muppets TV show growing up, but I was familiar with their two massive anthems "Moving Right Along" and "Rainbow Connection," and before you bros out there start ranting about how those aren't anthems, let me say, relax bros, they are anthems and you need to get a soul. But anyway, this song from the pretty enjoyable Muppets flick really nails it with the piano, the drums kicking in, and the lyrics about reflecting on the past. Kermit is so profound man!

N****S In Paris by Jay-Z and Kanye West
Jay-Z and Kanye dropped one of the most anticipated albums of the year with their team up project titled Watch The Throne. With Jay-Z and Kanye being some of the biggest rappers, hype was huge for this one and it totally delivered, and the best track on the disc is this one. With it's simple beat, outlandish boasts, and badass bass breakdown at the end it's the most diverse song on the album. For more on the wild lyrics check out the excellent Rap Genius breakdown of the whole thing. And yeah, it came down between this and Made in America, but N***S in Paris is just more varied.

Goodbye by Soap & Skin & Apparat
2011 was the year I got super deep into the incredible AMC series Breaking Bad. This song, from some German DJ dude featured prominently in the brain exploding awesome season finale and I haven't been able to get it out my head since. It's like old school western music with a modern day twist and highly unforgettable.

Honorable Mention
Undun (The Entire Album) by The Roots - I guess I'd been sleeping on "The Roots" previous albums or I was rubbed the wrong way by bros who at Dave Matthews Bands shows who say "dude I love the Roots man," but this disc is fresh as hell.

December 14, 2011

Best Character: Moses from Attack The Block

It's no secret how much I loved Attack The Block. About a gang of British street kids defending their apartment block from "big alien gorilla wolf mofos" was far superior to Super 8 which also told a similar youth vs aliens story. But the heart and soul of "Attack The Block" lies with it's ultra badass main character "Moses," who if you couldn't tell from the name is the leader of the pack. Brilliantly played by John Boyega, Moses is so engaging for his wicked badass alien killing authority, but also for his humanity, a key part later in the film. Yeah, I like seeing him take down aliens with samurai swords, but his emotion is what takes the character to the next level. By the time the final showdown came about in the movie, I don't think I was ever rooting for a character more onscreen this summer. MOSES! NINJA!

**Boyega is following up his star making turn as Moses by playing a young Mike Tyson in an HBO series pilot**

December 13, 2011

Best of 2011: Best Oh Shit Moment

The writing staff over at THISLALIFE do things a little differently. So while other much more sophisticated media sites, magazines, and institutions are sitting around trying to best each other's best lists, we're going to focus on the best shit in 2011 that probably won't make any lists. So stay tuned as the year ticks down to the explosion known as 2012, cause we're going through all the stuff that got it going in the year of the double ones.

"Rise of the Planet of the Apes" was easily the surprise of the year (check out my review). What most people wrote off as a stupid cash grab by Fox rapidly climbed to both critical praise and some serious scrilla. I kind of saw it coming, Apes director Rupert Wyatt's previous film "The Escapist" is a under appreciated prison escape flick with great characters, so I had moderate hopes that Apes would deliver. But anchored by an incredible turn by performance capture god Andy Serkis, the story of how Caesar the ape, started the rebellion against the humans is pure cinematic gold.

And while it's not my favorite film of the year, it did easily have the best "Oh Shit Moment,"or OSM for short, which if you don't know is the only thing that really matters in entertainment. And while there are many great moments in the film, from the childish way Caesar first integrates himself into suburban life, to his takedown of a brutish neighbor, to his Tony Montana esque rise to power at the ape prison, or even the bridge showdown, nothing comes close to the end, which establishes the future of all the apes moves to come and those that came before it. LOOK AWAY NOW if you don't want me to spoil what the best part of the film. LOOK AWAY, you've been warned.

The theater I was in went absolutely bananas insane when this happened and I'm still reeling about it today. HAIL CAESAR! 

December 2, 2011

Hugo & The Muppets Bringing It With The Family Fun

I frequently have my buddies walk up to me and say "Yo, TPG, they don't make good movies for kids anymore,  kids these days bro, they don't have any flicks like "Short Circuit" or "Rookie of the Year"!" My response is usually something along the lines of, don't worry mon, I'm sure those movies are about to get remade/remade/reformatted/ruined soon. However, I recently saw two great movies while typically labeled "kidz" movies are suitably enjoyable for all ages.

This one comes from cinematic legend Martin Scorsese and it's nothing short of pure cinematic magic! Based off the book by Brian Selznick, the film focuses on a young orphan who resides in a clock tower at the central train station in Paris. He's trying to solve the mystery of his late father's Automaton, which may or may not be linked to the history of cinema itself. All the actors including Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen, and Chloe Moretz give great performances and the world Scorsese creates is magical. Yet the strength of the film lies in it's heart, which is wickedly sentimental, but never cheesy. I highly recommend.

The Muppets
Now let's talk about The Muppets. I grew up without a television, so I didn't know there was Muppet TV show until about two weeks ago when the press blitz started for the film. However, I did know that Rainbow Connection and Movin' Right Along are amazing tracks, so when I heard that the film was going to have music from Bret McKenzie of Flight of the Conchords fame I was pumped. So, yeah, there's singing and dancing, and there's Muppet's getting into, and there is a very bare bones plot involved getting the old gang back together to save their old theater. It's a great little bundle of a flick with some really endearing and memorable songs, including this one below which is easily the standout. There's also some really funny parts and some cool "meta" parts where the characters talk to the audience and acknowledge that they are in a movie. So if you're not seeing this movie with your family or kids, I'm going to wager that these parts are particularly mind blowing.

So yes, there are still great movies for kids. And while I'm confident today that kids these days are going to turn out slightly messed up from playing to much Modern Warfare 3 or seeing Optimus Prime shoot people's heads off. , at least they are going to have some awesome movies to look back on.

November 30, 2011

Daniel Day Lewis Is Abe Lincoln

As you may know, Daniel Day Lewis is starring as the legendary Abe Lincoln is Steven Spielberg's film. This photo comes Slashfilm and I gotta say, this looks like instant oscar magic.

November 22, 2011

A.I. Remixed by Pogo

This comes from a South African DJ named Pogo. I haven't seen A.I. since I saw it in the theaters where I remembered as being super long and wayyyyy over my head. Still this video is wild both in the way is presents the old film in a new way and the fact that it shows how art/music can come from the most unexpected places.

November 18, 2011

A Couple Things About The Expendables 2 Poster

  1. There is some crazy hair going on in this poster. We have Stallone's artfully trimmed mustacheaotee, Arnold's blow out hair cut, Bruce's bald done, Chuck Norris's beard, and Lundgren's flowing golden trestles.
  2. Are they standing in front of a Volcano? What can this tell us about the plot
  3. The last movie called EX2 was "X2: X Men United" and that movie was the shit, this bodes very well for The Expendables 2
  4. Jet Li's name is listed on the partner but he is absent from the volcano action? What is fame?
  5. Also worth mentioning is that the "young" expendable Liam Hemsworth is nowhere to be seen.
  6. This movie is going to be just as "good" as the first one.
  7. I'm getting a serious Putin vibe from Van Damme up there on the top right
  8. Will Terry Crews be able to top his legendary "Remember this shit at Christmas" line from the first film. That is a question that keeps me up at night.
  9. Nice that we have advanced so far in gender politics that there can be a woman on the poster. Change is real.
  10. Seriously, I cannot wait for this movie. I'm definitely there opening night.

November 16, 2011

Dispatches From The Indie Film World

There was a period of my life where I thought that "Independent" movies meant they were some how related to "Independence Day," which would mean they would involve aliens, Will Smith, and mass destruction of landmarks. Well, that period ended about two days ago and I can no report I have recently seen two great independent films that are def worth checking out and are not connected to "Independence Day."

Martha Marcy May Marlene - This dynamite film tells the story about a young woman (the superb Elizabeth Olsen) who escapes from a Charles Manson like cult and ends up staying with her sister and brother in law. As the film progresses we see both what her life was like at the cult and how she is having a really difficult time adjusting to the real world. The film is anchored by Olsen's dynamite performance and it's expert slow burn of just how sinister things got at the cult and just what impact they could have outside of the cult's grounds. John Hawkes, so money in "Winter's Bone" gives another terrifying performance as the cult leader. I should say the film is intense, so if you're looking for something a little light hearted, check out "Puss in Boots." But if you're looking for a well acted, slow burn of a dramatic thriller, this is the one!

Like Crazy - Love is wild! Love is Awesome! Love is Painful! Love is Crazy! This great little flick which one the Grand Jury prize at Sundance tells the story of the relationship of Jacob (Anton Yelchin) and Ana (Felicity Jones) as they go through a wicked crazy long distance multi-year intense relationship. It's a very romantic film, so if you're looking for something that isn't about cults, this is a good pick, but I should say that it isn't all happy. Director Drake Doremus provides a honest unflinching look at young love, both it's joys and it's brutal low points. Overall, just an awesome flick.

November 14, 2011

The Hunger Games Trailer

As a massive fan of the books, I gotta say, this trailer is pretty damn great. I like the whole mood of the thing, for some reason, I thought this was going to be extremely cheesy, but this looks pretty damn serious. I mean, it kind of has to be serious if it involves kids throwing spears into each other's chests.

November 8, 2011

Why My Moral Outrage About Modern Warfare 3 Has Faded

I used to get weirded out by Call of Duty. It wasn't that I didn't like the games, shit, I love the games, they're pretty much the video game equivalent of Michael Bay movies (which I also love), it was their content. Whenever I mowed down countless waves of terrorists/Russians/Brazilians/Enemies/Zombies that wanted to kill the United Stated of Badassery I just always had a pang of "this is kind of messed up because it's happening in real life," going through my head.

I've been writing posts on this for years now, including this one about the "there's a soldier in all of us" marketing campaign, this one about creating responsible war narratives, and this one on the realistic violence in the series. Yet as the launch day approached I just found myself not caring anymore. I'm either just desensitized to all the insane violence/propaganda in the games or the franchise has evolved from war simulator to the insane world war action spectacle that is so far from realistic it has now evolved into "cartoonish."

I mean the new game has the Eifel Tower collapsing in the midst of gigantic battle for freedom, which is almost plagiarism from Team America. The villains, who in the first chapters in the franchise were radical muslims and nationalist russians have now become some type of James Bondian syndicate of people who just don't like the United States, including corrupt US generals. Even the ad campaigns are now more comical, gone are of the days of normal civilians fighting battles, now we have zany Jonah Hill ripping off one liners and firing at a faceless enemy.

So with the Call of Duty franchise embracing it's Bayish destiny, does this mean we are entering into an era of responsible video games. Hardly, just take one look at the marketing campaign for rival shooter Battlefield 3, which features the tagline: "Is it real or is Battlefield 3." Obviously, it's not real, because no gamer dies while playing Battlefield, yet with over 3 million people buying Battlefield 3 in the first week there still is a demand for the ultra-gritty combat simulator. Luckily, Modern Warfare 3 is projected to sell 9 million copies in it's first day, it looks like some people still prefer to have the "game" in their war simulators.

November 7, 2011

Red Dead Redemption Has Already Scalped "Hell on Wheels."

Last night was a big night for entertainment. Now I'm not talking about the fat zombie turd baby on Walking Dead, I'm talking about AMC's new series Hell on Wheels. By all accords it was a pretty cool pilot with a variety of central characters searching the scorched earth western landscape of 1860 for vengeance, glory, and some trace of humanity. Yet, as I watched it, I couldn't help but think that the show was lagging behind, you know playing catch up, to the current defining western of the decade: 2010's Red Dead Redemption.

Both Red Dead Redemption and Hell on Wheels focus on a grizzled outlaw who finds himself in the rapidly changing landscape of the American West in the post civil war era. They're both on a mission, John Marston in Red Dead to reunite with his family and Cullen Bohannon in Wheels to avenge the death of his own. Both protagonists have grizzled flowing manes and matching facial hair, have a tendency to dress in black, and don't seem to have a problem blasting their six shooters.

Yet while Hell on Wheels looks like it will do an adequate job putting an individual narrative in the greater historic scope of an era, it felt stale to me because Red Dead Redemption did it so much better. Their are many interesting characters on the show, including former slaves, traveling entertainers, businessman, senators, and Native Americans but they only exist in the narrow scope of the TV narrative. Red Dead on the other hand features the same characters gives them stories that are deeper than one line of exposition. And that's what the best video games have that TV and film can't provide: insane depth.

In Red Dead you can play the storyline of the protagonist but if you don't want to do that, you can just hunt in the wilderness or watch the sunset over the prairie. If you want to explore the history of that wandering stranger from Hollywood, you can track him throughout the story. It's a bigger more enriching story experience that TV even with all it's strengths can really match, and Hell on Wheels is doing itself so favors by having it's protagonist, level of violence, and story be so similar to the video game masterpiece, it's a tough match up.

**If you need further explanation on why Red Dead Redemption is one of the best western narratives ever, check out my the good folks at Lifting Fog's take on it.

November 2, 2011

GTA V Trailer Promises Something Big

Besides being ridiculously fun to play the Grand Theft Auto games are pretty much a part of our American Heritage. The last game in the series Grand Theft Auto IV was pretty much a master class in storytelling, regardless of it's format. Whoah, why am I getting all academic here, GTA V trailer son! The return to San Andreas.

Previous reports have pegged the game having multiple characters, but I'm calling it now, those characters will be the central protagonists of previous GTA games coming together in pretty much the most epic crime story ever told. That's right, I'm pretty sure Claude from GTA III, Tommy Vercetti from Vice City, and CJ from San Andreas, and Nico Bellic from GTA IV will be appearing in this story.

It's pretty mind blowing when you really start thinking about having these characters all in one epic final story. It's kind of like having Michael Corleone, Tony Montana, and some Scorsese character all exist in one cinematic world that you have control over. Whoa, can't wait!

October 31, 2011

Terrorism, 24, and Showtime's Excellent New Series "Homeland"

It's no secret that the good folks over at This LA Life loved the hell out of 24. For 8.5 seasons we got to see terrorist destroyer Jack Bauer save the by any means necessary, and when I say any means necessary I mean crazy torture, wild violence, and a whole lot of self sacrifice. Yet, when the show left the airwaves in 2009 it left partly because our national appetite for terrorist killing had dimmed with the election of Obama and the hope of change. Simply put, Bauer was banished to the Bush era past, the one full of Abu Ghraib torture, color coded attack alerts, and water boarding.

But the war against against terrorism didn't end with an election did it? With Bin Laden taken out in a daring raid, drone strikes continuing overseas, and shady Iranian bombing plots, the world of counter-terrorism is alive and well. So where's Jack Bauer? He's starring in a pseudo spiritual show about a magic child. It's all good though because now we have Showtime's Homeland, which could be the best show about terrorism that I've ever seen.

The core plot line focuses on CIA agent Carrie Matthieson (Claire Danes) as she investigates a terrorist threat to America. She believes a key component of the threat is Nicholas Brodie (Damian Lewis), an American POW who she thinks has gone full "Manchurian Candidate" after being helpt captive in Iraq for 9 years. The show focuses on both her investigation of the threat and Brodie's adjustment to his domestic life after being locked away for so many years.

24 worked because Jack Bauer  was so captivating. He was a terrorist hunter Jesus figure, saving our freedom but paying deep  personal costs for it. It's no surprise then that Homeland, which comes from 24 producers Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa also features characters that are mentally damaged by the war of terrorism. Both Brodie and Carrie are not hiding from their peers, their jobs require them to be interacting with people on a daily basis, Brodie as a spokesperson for the Marines, and Claire as a lead analyst at the CIA. Internally though they both are seriously screwed up. Carrie is taking medication secretly for some psycho-disorder and we learn she forgets to eat and seemed to have a habit of screwing her superior officers. Brodie can't connect with his wife, has intense nightmares and hallucinations, and has secretly converted to Islam during his captivity, but hasn't told anybody. Everyone is processing the effects of terrorism on this show, which is captivating, because as nation we are doing the same.

And while it has all these deep themes working with it, the whole terrorist hunting plot is just as dope as it was in 24. There are dubious legal maneuvers, a mysterious network of villains, intense surveillance details, and plenty of secret allegiances. Since it's on Showtime the violence is more visceral, the language dirtier, and the themes even darker. Yet, even with all this show still feels realistic, and avoids the action movie violence that permeated 24. I mean, we're five episodes in and the body count is hovering at two! Two! At five episodes into 24 we'd be at at least 15!

As Americans we've always craved media during wartime as a way to understand. We hunger for fictional narratives to be applied them, and Homeland is a perfect example of it.  The opening credits feature audio, video, and photos from notable real life parts of the war against terrorism and features references to real life events, something 24 never really did.

And just how real life counter-terrorism politics have evolved, so has the methods on the show. In the most recent episode, the interrogation of a suspect who had been been snatched up in Pakistan and brought do the US under extraordinary rendition, seemed terrifyingly real. Carrie and her team subjected him to sleep deprivation, made promises about saving his family, and in a very un-24 moment, didn't lay a finger on him. The icing on this cake was Carrie's response to an inquiry if the suspect would be tortured Bauer style, her response: "We don't do that here."

It's a strange feeling because the 24 fan in me expected for Carrie to say that and then promptly go snap some fingers and start getting answers. But the key part of that line is the "here" part. Sure you won't do that "here", but maybe you'll do it somewhere else. Somewhere else that isn't in the news and exists in a gray area of counter-terrorism politics. And that is the area that Homeland thrives in. Leave Bauer and company where they belong, gone but not forgotten, somewhere in our patriotic past.

October 27, 2011

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol Trailer Looks Seriously Awesome

I gotta say, this has looked awesome since the first trailer. I don't know if I'm ready to load it onto the TPG hype train just yet, but I'm starting to seriously consider adding it as inventory. The hating on Tom Cruise ship has sunk a while ago and he's working with The Incredibles director Brad Bird and a great cast. My brother and I are planning on taking my young cousin to see this in IMAX (The Dark Knight Rises Trailer that will run with it is a nice incentive) and I'm expecting both of us to enjoy it thoroughly. 

October 26, 2011

Spherical Flying Robots = Our Future Overlords

You seeing this shit? I mean c'mon son! I was tipped off to this via Scientific American and watching it, I got an immediate sense that I've seen this hovering sphere before. So before these things take over the planet, let's take a trip down memory lane and see some of the places this thing pops up.

Star Wars - This thing is totally either Luke's Jedi training device or some type of Viper Probe Droid. Now before you go calling me a Star Wars nerd like I'm JP or something, I found all this intel on wookiepedia.

343 Guilty Spark - Straight out of Halo 1, this little guy was a hovering orb computer who eventually sells out the humans because what he really wants is global annihilation via the ancient Halo Ring (I didn't need Halo Wiki to know that).

Wheatley - This guy is just like the 343 Guilty Spark except he's a little more snarky and British. A major character in Portal 2, he's beloved by hipsters and video game nerds alike.

Your Nightmares - Whoah, that's not a movie TPG! That's right, but if you check out the article above this thing is wild. It achieve speeds of 30mph and can hover in place. In addition to it's airborne capabilities it can also roll of the floor. Simply put it's hard to hide from.

Your 2 - Imagine how this thing is gonna work when it's got a whole gang of robots working with it. Last year this video of robots autonomously building structures gave us a glimpse of what is to come and now that we have an orb army, everything is falling into place.

Where the hell is Neo?

October 17, 2011

Why Do We Love Zombies So Much?

Call me a deranged psycho but that photo up there looks like a good time. I mean who wouldn't want to take a fire ax to a zombie's head? If you answered "no, not me, that sounds awful," you're a saint and you're in the minority, congrats, because a lot of other people are in the gore splattering group. With the "The Walking Dead" back on TV, zombies are so hot right now and the reasons for this are slightly disturbing.

Hold up, hold up, all you doubters out there who still don't believe zombies are popular. Consider that megastar Brad Pitt is shooting a huge end of the world zombie flick right now, zombie video games continue to sell, World Zombie Day was October 8th, and zombie novels get mad love on NPR. It's easy to see that people are really into the flesh eating hordes.

But being a zombie would suck right? You just walk around all day aimlessly with no soul, only living to eat (I'm still waiting for someone to equate being a zombie with being wicked drunk/high and craving pizza, but that seems like a stretch.) Compared to vampires which basically are super powerful violence/sex machines and werewolves which are ferocious beasts, zombies are pretty bland.

Which makes me believe that people aren't into zombies, they're into the circumstances that accompany them. And that first circumstance of the zombie narrative is the crumbling of society. This appeals to us because it's the ultimate test? How long could you really hang without your Iphone? Are the escape plans you bullshit about with your buddies really that good? Do I really have some ancient hunter-gather power in DNA waiting to be released? In the face of the dead rising from the grave with brain munchies, how do I stack up against everyone else? Forget facebook friend counts and twitter followers, this is the ultimate validation! Would I go down like a rookie or would I be leading the resistance chopping off undead heads?

Ahh, chopping off heads, that's a a part of it. When watching any gory zombie tale, I find myself thinking, alright alright, keep talking, just get to the zombie slaying. See the thing with killing zombies is that you're killing human bodies without consequence. Kill a human you're a murderer, kill a "zombiebified" human you're a hero. It would be be different if the zombies had green blood or something, but they always bleed red. To sum it up, zombie violence is just a twisted excuse for crazy violence on your fellow man (even if he's half dead).

Will this concern make stop watching "The Walking Dead" and playing zombie video games? No, but it will make me approach zombie-mania with a little more trepidation. I'll let these zombie maniacs obsess over their shows and games, meanwhile I'll be stocking up on supplies and training with my axe. After all, I really need to be the hero when "Z" day comes.

October 13, 2011

10 Ways The ACT OF VALOR Trailer Emulates Call of Duty

Since we never got to see the helmet cam footage of the Bin Laden raid or other special forces missions, we now are applying fictional narratives like one featured in the trailer for "Act of Valor" to as a way to understand our most elite special forces teams. By using "real" navy seal soldiers, the whole trailer has a "reality TV" vibe to it, meaning we are watching real soldiers "act" throughscenarios inspired by real life. It's kind of like "Jersey Shore," but with guns and killing. Besides the Michael Bay aesthetic to the whole thing, the entire trailer is clearly inspired by the popular video game series Call of Duty. Here are 10 examples that as a fan of the video game franchise and Navy Seals in general picked up on. All links take you gameplayer segments from the franchise.
  1. It only takes 45 seconds before we get our first person view of a SEAL rising out of the water. This entire sequence is straight out of Call of Duty Black Ops.
  2. Then right after that we get a first person sniper rifle shot, the bread and butter of shooter games, so popular it even is a sub-genre and a least one dedicated mission in Call of Duty game.
  3. Around the 56 mark we get our first taste of the night vision helmet cam action complete with the weapon in the middle of the screen. Another hallmark of the Call of Duty games.
  4. At the 1:22 mark we have our first drone footage of the troop team in action, which is copied out of the Blackbird mission from the most recent Call of Duty game
  5. We also are treated to our first indication of the plot, a line: "this thing is way bigger than we thought it was." Plots in video games are also intricate conspiracies, this film looks no different. See this Modern Warfare 3 trailer as an example.
  6. Around the 1:30 mark we get the underwater submarine action, another essential piece of any Call of Duty game.
  7. 1:40 Mark we get our truck chase.
  8. 1:44 Finally a video game like explosion and it's spectacular.
  9. All video games have villains or bosses that must be taken down at the 1:49 mark we get our man, a crazy Arab looking dude with his hand on a detonator.
  10. Finally at the 1:58 mark we get another shooting segment, this one involving a river boat with a mini gun, just like this mission
The website for the film is full of Call of Duty imagery including silhouettes of soldiers with guns and a familiar green type face on the bottom.

October 11, 2011

10 Things About The Avengers Trailer

  1. Who is going to get the final take down. I'm not seeing this thing completely be an ensemble, one hero is going to have to lay the final punch down on the villain. My money is on Iron Man since his franchise sacrificed the most to make "The Avengers" film a reality
  2. Successive explosions rank up in there with sword throwing as cool shit you can put on screen.
  3. There can only be one blonde Avenger, (This explains why Thor and Captain America are fighting)
  4.  While I'm excited to see The Hulk on screen every time I see Mark Ruffalo on screen I think about that chill brah dude from "The Kids Are All Right."
  5. Someone at Marvel knows that Samuel L. Jackson had to face his cinematic destiny and start firing bazookas all over the place
  6. Where are the aliens? (See the assorted nerd ramblings for more info on this)
  7. Based off Thor laughing at Iron Man in this trailer, can we assume that Thor didn't learn anything about humility in his first on screen outing. I actually hope that he didn't because seeing the two of them tear up Vegas in a super night of partying would be epic.
  8. Hawkeye could steal the show, I'm calling it now.
  9. It's still cool as hell seeing Iron Man flying around, doesn't really get old.
  10. Now that this trailer has dropped, the ball is in "The Dark Knight Rises"court to score some buzz.

October 10, 2011

TPG's Chemistry Class: Season Finale "Face Off"


DING! DING! DING! That is the "Holy Shit Got Dayummmmmm" bell ringing in my brain after last night's totally bananas season finale. I got multiple special guests contributing including the return of the REAL LIFE SCIENTIST and a new contributor JOHN MARSTON.  So let's call up Badger and Skinny Pete get some blue sky and get our river dance on with this finale!

1. This episode was called "Face Off" and right away I can think of multiple ways to interpret this title. The first obviously is that Gus Fring literally gets his face blown off. When he walked out of that room and I yelped because I thought he was alive and then the camera turned to show this. Cage and Travolta would have been proud. The second face off also pertains to a face getting blown off, but instead of literally like Gus, it's metaphorically, as in we know now Walter White's true face as a criminal mastermind. The third and final one is the future showdown that will be the final season of Breaking Bad. Jesse vs Walt, Hank vs Walt, Badger vs Skinny Pete, Gale vs Space.

2. Bryan Cranston appeared recently on the excellent WTF Podcast with Marc Maron where he revealed the whole plan for the show is to show how Mr. Chips becomes Scarface. We now are close to the end so if Scarface goes out in a hail of bullets, can we expect the same for Walter?

3. In addition to the deaths of Gus, Tyrus, Hector, and ambiguous henchmen, let's take a moment of silence for Gale's coffee machine. For all you coffee lovers out there, it was a real tragedy.

4. You asked for it, and now he's back, yes folks the return of the Real Life Scientist and he's hypothesizing and realizing shit that no one could have thought of, not even you Brandon (yes you!)
I'm sure you noticed that last week Walt spun the gun three times last week twice pointing at himself insinuating to kill himself and then to the plant! Also up for argument was whether big black took Jesse's cigs because some way Walt took the cigarette when he smoked it with Jesse which is why he only took a couple of drags. Also if you look at the paper being shredded, it looked like a school schedule, where someone wrote out Monday through Friday suggesting it was Brock's schedule and he was poisoned at school (WHAAT)
Dayum that's a mind melt with some blue sky crossed together with some Pollos Hermanos. Big thanks to the Real Life Scientist for all his insightful comments.

5. I loved how at the end Hector, just like Walt was motivated by his family. The Salamanca portrait was goofy considering what the family became but it was bizarrely touching to see crazy ol' Hector look to the portrait before he rang in the spirit of vengeance.

6. You ever notice how everyone on the show is also nice ass jackets.

7. At the start of the season we saw Gus getting dressed up to ice somebody. Once again he put on his best clothes to kill as well. And while the death of Gus was WILD, I still hope we learn more about him, specifically his probably Chilean background in the military.

8. When those guys in the van grabbed Jesse I had a flashback to Lost and I thought for a second that they were gonna ask if Jesse was a candidate. BTW if you care:

  •  Walt  = John Locke
  •  Jesse = Sawyer
  •  Gus =  Ben Linus
  •  Saul = Jacob
9. I've been watching this season with "THE GUY" over at the excellent Lifting Fog blog. A major TV junkie I tracked him down at the car wash. Since he's an avid fan of the western genre and this season has had a particular Western flare to it, let's call him John Marston! Here are his thoughts on three potential "Breaking Bad" spin-offs for network television:

'Love Thy Neighbor': A game show wherein contestants are offered increasing amounts of cash/drug power to inflict potentially lethal harm on the people who water their plants when they're out of town. It's like that sociological experiment at the university that I heard about one time in some class. Milgram? Something. Anyway, it's on after 'Biggest Loser'.

'Nursing Home Hijinks': In an alternate outcome to Tio's bell-bomb, Gus survives…but has lost the majority of his motor skills, and for whatever reason is also 30 years older. Anyway he and Tio are now roommates in the Casa Bonita Retirement Home, constantly trying to kill and/or out-stare each other. They are all bottle episodes.

'Hank 24/7': In which we follow DEA agent Hank Schrader through every lead, computer search, and jovially gruff repartee as he attempts to decipher the connection between Los Pollos Hermanos and the Mexican cartels (and get fidgety Marie off his back, good grief!). Hank is the best, and deserves the best show on television (besides the show from which he's spun off, and of course 'The New Girl').

10. With Gus dead and Walt/Jesse seemingly out of the business, where does the show go from here? Well, there are couple tantalizing set ups for next season that I've been thinking about. Hank is gonna learn that Walt and Jesse were at the laundry before it burned up, expect him to be 100% healthy and 100% on the offensive next time. Jesse is going to learn about the flowers plot and about Jane's death at some point and it's going to be full on Jesse vs Walt. The FBI is not done with Pinkman, no way. What was Saul's involvement in the finale events, who's side is he on? How does Mike factor into the end of this story? Who's going to run Pollos Hermanos? How will anybody last until the show comes back for it's final season....this show is so dayummm goooooooooooddddd.

A big thanks to everyone who read the Chemistry Class this season. It's been fun to write and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much I enjoyed writing it. I'll leave you with this parting gift. Yes that is Bryan Cranston as Hector.

October 5, 2011

50/50 Is One Of The Best Films Of The Year (GO SEE IT)

50/50 is heart warming story about friendship, family, and how people respond to illness. It makes you laugh, tear up, and be grateful for what you have. And while it may surprise some of you to know that I enjoy that enjoy movies that don't have robotic ninjas riding dinosaurs to save the earth from aliens (that would be a dope action movie though), but in fact this is a touching comedy-drama really hits a home run.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Adam, a healthy guy in his mid 20's who is diagnosed with spinal cancer out of the blue. The film, originally titled, "I'm With Cancer" deals with how the diagnosis impacts him and the people around him. Those people include his buddy Kyle (Seth Rogen), his therapist (Anna Kendrick), his girlfriend (Bryce Dallas-Howard) and his mother (Anjelica Huston). Yeah, I get it, you don't really wanna see a depressing movie about a dude struggling with cancer, but an autobiographical script by Will Reiser keeps thing balanced with humor and heart. It's a tough mix but the group lead by director Jonathan Levine makes sure the flick nails all the right beats.

Rogen in particular seems to be playing the same dude he played in "Knocked Up" and "Funny People," but he's more confident and it comes across on screen. Levitt's performance is very moving and I hope it gets him some love from the Academy, but I don't think it will, cause that's just how the world works, I'm not to worried though because between this and "The Dark Knight Rises" he's well on his way to being a mega star.

Ultimately though the movie is effective because of just how emotional it is. Everyone has someone in their lives that has struggled with illness and this great story manages to tap into some of those emotions to really stick with you. It makes you appreciate everyone in your life from your parents, to your friends, to even your pets. It's like the opposite of "Drive", which is about the glorification of the individual (who stomps on faces). I highly recommend it, I'll be surprised if you don't enjoy it.

October 4, 2011

What Apple Missed During Their iphone Event

Now that the Apple press conference has revealed the new iPhone,  let's go ahead and take a second to stop worshiping at the the temple of the forbidden fruit and look at what wasn't announced but should have been. And in true thislalife fashion, let's turn to Hollywood for answers.

1. iSkynet or the iTerminator -It's only a matter of time before this happens, hell, it's probably already going on. Oh wait, it did, check out this article about ipads being used in combat and what we more we can see. So if that's the case I expect the isoldier to be announced at the next keynote and the itimetravel to be proclaimed at the keynote following that (after that there will be no more keynotes, only the resistance).

2. iMe - This basically the iClone, which when you think about it is really not that far away. Anybody who's seen the masterpiece* known as "The Sixth Day" knows that one day big corporations will build clones of arnold and XFL players

3. iF.R.I.E.N.D - Foret about Siri the personal assistant, anyone who has seen "D.A.R.Y.L" or "Josh & S.A.M" knows that the coolest friend that any kid can have growing up is a robot who can hack banks, drive cars fast, and steal Blackbird fighter jets. The sooner Apple quits playing games and starts making cool companion robots for kids, the better the world will be

4. Vigilante App - This is the most serious of all the things I'm proposed here. With a little programing by some Lucius Fox type persona, it's easy to imagine how the iphone could be used to fight crime. It could use geo tagging to find crime areas, sparks to terminate enemies, and social plug ins to keep up with your fellow Avengers/JLA members.

5. iCult - Kind of like "The Wicker Man" but people worship a device.  People love like their own child, it would be created by people around the world who slave away around the clock in conditions so tough they snap and kill themselves. Oh wait, that's all real, speaking of that, where's my iphone/imac/ipad/apple TV. I need it, my precioussssssss.

October 3, 2011

TPG's Chemistry Class: Episode 12 "End Times"

Who's dying? Seriously that's what everybody is thinking about right now. We have a finale coming up next week and that's on minds of all the Breaking Bad junkies out there. Cause, let's face it, that's what we are, we're hooked on tha "Breaking Bad" blue magic best TV show, takes over ya brain madness that is this show.

1. I find it interesting that in the opening scene Walt tells Skyler that she "doesn't know these people" which is ironic because she's in business and married to one of them. It also made reflect that for all his posturing about family, "Walt" is just as much one of them as Jesse. He's the danger, don't forget it.

2. One thing I really enjoy about the show is how realistically it deals with death. When people die, either their bodies get disposed of chemically, Mike the cleaner gets rid of them, or a police investigation is started. So I was surprised when Ted died last week and there was zero mention of it this week. Granted it probably had something to do with Saul getting ready to skip town, but I just thought there would be more.

3. Back in episode 9, some dude got his head exploded out of the blue and I was just waiting for it to happen again to some of the DEA agents/Walter's family. I was literally on edge the entire episode. Wild!

4. This episode was directed by series mastermind/chemist Vince Gilligan. Some of the shots including the the pan down from the laundry to the lab were just badass.

5. I really like Steve Gomez but his enhanced screen time this week makes me think he be singing russian karaoke videos next season if you know what I mean.

6. The metaphor of the chaos/violence of their actions totally permeating everyone's lives was on clear display with the guns on the table. First is the the .38 snub that Walter hung out by the pool, then it was the Modern Warfare 2 assault rifle pointed at the camera, and finally Jesse pushed that gun into Walt's forehead so much it left a mark. The violence that they created is just waiting to break in!

7. Let's talk about Gus baby. I don't think he poisoned Brock, it seems too evil/cunning even by his standards, but you never know. So if he didn't do it, then who did? Walt? Naw, he's evil but not that devilish. My money is on nobody, Jesse is just jumping to conclusions (see point 10). But from a writing perspective, somebody had to do it, because there is no way the Breaking Bad writers are sloppy enough to introduce some crazy plot out of the blue like this as the end approaches.

8. Also his crazy chicken sense not to get into that car confirms that he has some serious shady military dictatorship experience. When are we gonna learn this? When is his backstory really coming, not the "Gus Fring: Poolside diaries shit we got earlier."

9. Walter seemed to get his mojo back when he was explaining just how Gus could have manipulated Jesse to try to kill him. It was if, paranoia, power plays, and pistol marks on his forehead are boosters to his maniacal side.

10. You know Jesse's run of Mexican vacations and popcorn & video-games had to end some time. Still it's jarring to see him jump on the crazy conclusion train, I mean that's something that Walt has been conducting since Season 1.

11. Acting is incredible but you already knew that, so check this out. (Not sure what Skyler is doing there).

September 29, 2011

A Brief History Of Sword Throwing On Screen

Thislalife readers know that I'm all about OSMs (Oh Shit Moments) in my movies. Recently I've discovered that one sure fire guaranteed OSM is the sword toss/throw/hoist. Now let me be clear it's not like I just watched 15 action movies in a row, but as I was thinking about "Gladiator" yesterday (as I often do, Gladiator is the shit FYI) it made truly realize how potent and powerful the sword toss is. If I was gonna put it in an analogy here it is

Indie Rock: Soulful Adult Finding Themselves Movies
Sword Throwing: Kick Ass People Finding Swords in Their Bodies Suddenly Movies 

Here is a list of some of my favorites:

The Last Samurai
Say what you will about this Tom Cruise or this flick, but that fact of the matter is, there was definitely some dude who gave serious notes on the script that said "yeah, this is interesting, but can't he throw the sword through the dude's chest." So much cool fighting with so many OSM's and sword tossing left and right. Badass flick and this final scene is so satisfying.

The frost, sometimes it makes the blade stick....yeahhh maynnne. Legendary scene here, and probably the most underrated scene in the entire flick. One of the best sword tosses cause you don't see Maximus toss it, but you know he did.  It's like showing not telling, it's genius

Stick around! (see above)

Ahhh, the emotional moment of truth sword toss, kind of sucks it doesn't land in anybody, but it's effective none the less.

Star Wars
Don't wanna get too deep into the Nerd abyss here but light saber throwing in the Star Wars flicks is common and cool.

Mr. Stallone has carved a quite a career for himself as a sword/knife thrower. Good for you Stallone.

I'm sorry if I missed any, this website is way more comprehensive than mine. To some extent, the modern era has been kind to sword throwing. I mean "Thor" is pretty based around throwing hammers through battle.

September 27, 2011

Foreign Flick: Elite Squad 1 & 2

"Elite Squad" is the spiritual sequel to "City of God" that you always knew you wanted, but you just didn't know how to find. What's that, you haven't seen "City of God," really, c'mon son, not only was it one the best films of the previous decade, it's one of the best films ever, but enough about that flick, we're talking about "Elite Squad" heya. Co-written by Braulio Mantovani,  the film is police thriller based on the BOPE, or the Special Police Operations Batallion in Rio de Janiero. And just like "City of God" it's unlike anything you've ever seen before.

Currently there are two "Elite Squad" films, but the second film "Elite Squad 2: The Enemy Within" is getting some press as it has just been submitted for the foreign film Oscar for Brazil.  The films are lightning rods for controversy as they show the extent of corruption in Brazil and the shocking levels that the protagonist Colonel Nascimento (Wagner Moura) goes for justice. Nascimento is mix of Jack Bauer, Dirty Harry, and the Terminator. All he cares about is taking down the corruption and seeking justice. And "justice" is a key word here as while both films  feature heroic cops, thematically the film explores the need for justice and retribution in a corrupt society. Both films feature parallel story lines that focus on intellectuals and how they see the ruthless police in the eyes of "the system." It's very fluid and while it's often compared to HBO's masterful "The Wire," it is much more heavy handed, with Nascimento providing some crazy voice over for the bulk of the film that's something along the lines of this:

The intellectual's love to call me a fascist, but I'll still show up when the criminals come knocking down their door and they need protection.

Ahh, "fascist," this is a word that comes up frequently when discussing the "Elite Squad" films. Many reviews including one from Variety have labeled the film simple recruitment material for fascism. With  politicians portrayed as corrupt, intellectuals coming across as naive pansies, and that the only worth getting is the peace through superior firepower/torture mentality, it's easy to see how people believe this. Yet director Jose Padilha brings up a good point:
Did people say Coppola was a fascist for creating Michael Corleone? It’s clear that we don’t think torture is OK, we don’t approve of the way Captain Nascimento behaves. We’re just showing how it is – and in reality, it’s actually worse.” 
And while I haven't spent anytime in the slums of Rio, the films really do come across as how "it is." These are brutal, violent, gritty films that have are style that feels so real it's impossible for it to feel thrilled while watching it. Padilha's first film "Bus 174"  was a documentary about a bus hijacking in Rio and his knowledge of savage nature of the slums comes across in his films both in tone and production design.

With the sequel generating considerable press, the films are serving as launch-pad for all those involved. Padilha is already working on rebooting the "Robocop" franchise and the film's star (featured above) Moura is starring in Neill Blomkamp's follow up to "District 9" with Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, and Diego Luna. If you liked "City of God" you gotta check out these flicks, they are one that people are going to be talking about for a long time.

September 26, 2011

TPG's Chemistry Class: Episode 11 "Crawl Space"

Everything has changed. More than any other episode, and yes, I'm including all the action heavy tension filled episodes of yonder year, this is the most game changing episode yet story wise. Where our characters go from here is anybody's guess. But, let's make sure our carpet is where we want it to be, and get started.

1. This episode was titled "Crawl Space" and in addition to the lab, the car-wash, and the desert it's a key piece of Breaking Bad lore. It was here that that Walter's compulsiveness really came to a fore-front when he was trying to take care of the fungus, it's here where Skyler stashed his money, and finally, now it's where he totally lost his mind. That cackle at the end, a man finally being crushed by everything above him. He's being pushed into hell.

2. This was one of four episodes that Bryan Cranston produced, and I can see why, his is a tour de force of acting makes the episode. That laugh in the end when he's in the crawl space was haunting.

3. Gus Fring was definitely in the Chilean Army when General Pinochet was calling the shots. You don't get private hospitals, with stashes of blood types, and expert doctors without having some serious connections. Also, it would explain where he learned his detailed, thorough, and ruthless approach to chicken and enemies.

4. Everyone knew Ted was going to die, but I gotta say, while I appreciated the very "Godfather" obvious homage with the oranges falling on him, I was a little disappointed that it wasn't more intense. I guess he died like he lived...carelessly. After all this was the guy who had an affair, cooked his books, and bought the Benzo. Yet I found his "I'm doing the right thing" speech to be a ray of light amidst the dark souls of this show.

5. Impressive that Hank referenced "3 Days of the Condor," it's an old school thriller starring Robert Redford about a vast conspiracy full of morally ambiguous people, sounds familiar.

6, The last time Jesse was playing Sonic Racing he was drugged out mess. Now, he's playing it with Andrea and Brock while eating popcorn, a happy little domestic unit, and who comes knocking at the door. Mr. Danger Walter White! The roles have been reversed. Jesse is the stable one and Walt is the drug-addicted mess. He's addicted to power and control. And damn if there any doubt Walt was off the rails he gets cattle prodded like some crazy animal.

7. Will Tyrus, Gus's current henchman live longer than Victor?

8. What does Gus want from Hector? Does he want him to cry? Lose it in his pants? Explode? Seriously, Gus, what you looking for? Your Jordans?

9. Change is coming:

  • Gus - He's got some hard choices. Killing Hank/Walter are bold moves. He's ruthless, he's going to try to kill Hank
  • Jesse - Does he have any compassion left for Walter. I don't think so.
  • Walter- A broken deranged man, he's going to confess to Hank and try to get out. My co-worker is correct, he'll be in hiding by the end of the season.
  • Saul - He's in too deep with the death of Ted and the witness protection thing. He's probably dead.

September 23, 2011

Jason Statham Needs To Fight More Monsters

Some of my most dedicated readers have been getting on my case about why I'm not pumped for "The Killer Elite." By all account I should be excited for it, I mean it's got cars, babes, explosions, guns, and fighting, that's kind of like my peanut butter and jelly, so what gives? Honestly, it's Jason Statham. I am a fan of Statham but I don't really feel the need to see his movies. How does that work?

Simply put, he's been doing the same thing for to long. I honestly can't tell the difference between "Blitz," "The Mechanic," and "Killer Elite" because they all feature him beating the shit out of dudes while he he wears dark colored clothes. That's a rule, he can only wear dark clothes. But seriously, what is he lacking, how come I'm not 100% on the train?

It's cause he's not fighting monsters or boxing.

Whaaa? Fighting monsters, c'mon son! I'm serious, look at Arnold. His first big movies had him playing a cyborg killer machine, chopping up giant snakes, and fighting intergalactic bounty hunting aliens. That's how you prove you're a badass, you take it to the next dimension, not the next level.

But what about Stallone? Stallone thinks Statham is the next great action star, this is a fact (Stallone once told me this himself) but while Stallone hasn't slayed as many monsters as Arnie, he's got his own genre: the boxing film. Stallone made many of them (perhaps you know this) and Statham should as well. It makes the audience see you as more as an underdog of the working class, instead of a top dog of the assassin with an accent class.

Of course, there's one thing that I know you all are thinking: "The Expendables!" Yeah. Whether it's the ridiculous basketball fight or the fact that he has the most kills, Statham owns that movie. However, he does have a legendary cast with him that provides some type of cool action multiplier (this happened to Arnold in Predator FYI). "Killer Elite" on the other hand has him paired up with De Niro, who I see as serious thespian, and with Clive Owen, who is cool, but has always been afraid to go full badass.

So basically, Statham just needs to switch it up a little bit. And based off this article he should star in a movie with a plot line something like this:

The US Olympic boxing team is recruited and trained by the US Government to to protect earth from an invading alien force.

Sign me up for that.

September 21, 2011

The Grey Trailer Is Born To Be Wild

Why hello there preview for a film I'm going to be relentlessly hyping for the next couple of months. Yes, this preview is correct: Liam Neeson fights wolves in the wild. I mean, how can you not be excited for this?

Neeson + Wolves = Sign Me Up

September 19, 2011

A Real Hero: Drive Roars To Life On The Silver Screen

For anyone complaining about the lack of creativity in Hollywood these days, go see the dynamite new film "Drive." With Ryan Gosling at the wheel, the film, directed by Nicolas Winding Refn is something the casual viewer will find mesmerizing and film nerds will salivate over. With it's dynamic camera work, killer score, and just plain insane direction, the whole thing just radiates cinematic power.

Not enough can be said about Gosling who just takes every scene he's in and owns it. Part of the pull of the film is lies in the contrasting nature of his character. On one hand he's a oft silent, handsome auto mechanic, caring for his neighbor and her son yet on the flip-side he's a ice-cold killing machine. Let's clear the air, there is some graphic ass violence in this flick, let me say that again THIS MOVIE IS VIOLENT AS HELL. Gosling deserves to get a Oscar nomination for his brooding intensity, but I think the Academy will bitch out because out of all the blood.

His killer support cast includes Albert Brooks (in a rare villainous turn), Bryan Cranston, Carey Mulligan, Ron Perlman, and Oscar Isaac all bring it, but the star of the show here is Refn. "Drive" looks like an art movie; shots linger, colors pop off the screen, and L.A. has never looked seedier. One of the greatest things about the flick is how well all the elements work well together. The cinematography by Newton Thomas Sigel is bananas, the original score by Cliff Martinez heightens every scene, and the script by Hossein Amini keeps things focused.

Refn who made the incredibly divisive masterpiece "Valhalla Rising" gets more confident with each film and "Drive" has him operating on top of his game. Good thing one of his many follow ups on tap is a big budget remake of the sci-fi classic "Logan's Run," with Gosling on board as well. In fact Gosling has become something of his dude, the DiCaprio to his Scorsese, with another project called "Only God Forgives," coming next.

Thislalife readers will now that I've been hot in pursuit of "Drive" for a while, even dedicating the Hype Train honor on it before it even dropped, and while sometimes that blows up in my face, no such thing happened with "Drive." The film is still driving figure eights all over my skull right now as I try to gain control of how excellent it is. Go see it, it's the truth.*

*'s violent.

TPG's Chemistry Class: Episode 10 "Salud"

Happy Father's Day everybody! Sorry did I get my dates mixed up? In case you didn't notice last night this episode was all about what being the unique relationship between a father and a son and just how far each will go to protect each other. Besides that it was a tense, action packed episode, full of a lot of people getting "GUSSED!" Yes, I just made up that word.

Gus:  (Verb) To be removed from the equation when you least expect it. Thought those mosquitos were going to be a problem but Hank really gussed them so we're good.

1. As I stated above, this episode was really about father figures. Walt's story/parable to Walter Jr. about how he remembered his father was heartbreaking, both because of how heartfelt it was (Cranston! Acting!) and how also how indicative it was of how much Walt still wants to control how he's perceived. On the flip side we had Jesse taking a family vacation with his father surrogates Gus and Mike. During both of story lines the son played a crucial part in saving the father. Walter Jr covering up for his's dad bloody well being and Jesse spilling blood to help his fathers' well being. Way to step up son! That was some Cat Steven's shit!

2. Speaking of stepping up! Tonight was the crowning achievement of Jesse Pinkman's career yo! Seeing him boss around the Mexican scientists, watching the crowd grow, and that final tick up to purity was tense, but the payoff for Jesse considering where's he been and what he's done was 100% pure satisfaction. It firmly cemented him in the Gus/Mike camp and that was even more prevalent by just how quickly he started blasting his gun like Tony Montana at the end. I'm 100% rooting for Pinkman and really hopes he becomes the Michael Corleone of this show.

3. I pointed out last week that the show is paying Homage to Scarface in a big way, but it seemed like this week they were paying homage to Fat Joe and Big Pin (RIP) with all those large Mexican gangsters!

4. I pointed out last week that the show is paying Homage to Scarface in a big way, but it seemed like this week they were paying homage to Fat Joe and Big Pin (RIP) with all those large Mexican gangsters!

5. Give up for RJ Mitte who plays Walter Jr. Last week I asked for some more scenes involving him and this week we got em'. Thanks gang.

6. As much as this season is about the continuing adventures of Gus Fring and the gang, it's also about Skyler's descent in moral depravity. She just like Walter has a taste for power and control and if you think that sweet ol' Ted and his new Benz are going to the end of the season, go back to watching "The Voice." That dude is marked for death and Skyler is going to give the order.

7. No Hank this week, and you know what I kind of missed the guy.

8. "There's no place for emotion in this," says the Head of Cartel to Gus, which is ironic because it's both true and false. Gus is the king of being emotionless whether he's slicing throats, serving up savory chicken, or killing a group of rivals en mass. Yet, Fring is also full of emotion, he taunts Uncle Hector, he makes a point to toss his nemesis into the pool, and smiles when Pinkman comes through with the cooking.

9. Good to see Morris O'Brian back on TV.

10. THE RETURN OF THE MIND MELT: While there have been more than a couple news stories about educators becoming Meth cooks, the story that seems to be paralleling the show now is the trial of Edgar Valdez Villarreal or "La Barbie." Born in Texas, Edgar got involved in the drug trade, became an enforcer for a cartel, and rapidly rose to power in the Cartel. He's now awaiting trial and most likely is responsible for over 150 deaths. I don't know if Pinkman has a dark enough soul to become that intense in the power structure of the cartel, but with Gus and Mike wounded, it's now on him to be emotionless and take over tha game!

September 16, 2011

Cred Confessions: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

I never really got Star Trek. I saw"Star Trek: First Contact" mainly because my buddy Ryan described "The Borg" as villain on par with Bobba-Fet. Of course Bobba-Fet is one man and the Borg are collected hive mind....whoah I'm getting ahead of myself. So in order to see what the old "Trek" was all about, I recently watched the highly acclaimed "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" on blu-ray. And yes Trekkies, I did watch the episode "Space Seed" first, so put your phasers down.

From what I understand part of the reason the film is so beloved is Khan, played by Ricardo Montalban is so damn money as the villain. This dude chews up scenery like a hungry Rancor feasting on people Jabba doesn't like (wrong series...sorry nerds). His quest for vengeance against Kirk does make for a exciting film and the action and story beats hold up very well. However some of the acting is a little over the top and the special effects are pretty janky. Scenes of torpedoes being fired from ships that look like glowing golden orbs are just pretty bootleg. I'm not sure if it's cool to judge old films on their special effects but if nerds are gonna worship something, then I'm gonna hold it to a high standard.

I was also struck how the film isn't afraid to address some real deal themes, you know like life, death, religion, and if you should strike things up with old flames. But seriously, the "Kobayashi Maru" test which popped up in the reboot is a plot point in the film that effectively muses about being prepared for death. Scenes involving McCoy and company ruminating on the "Genesis" project, kind of an atom bomb of planet creation are a noble attempt at something more substantive.

Director Nicholas Meyer does a solid job and there is some memorable camera work, particularly with scenes set outside the spaceships, yet the best part of the movie is the highly quotable space dialogue that is highly memorable and always touching. Spock's "I have been...and always shall be...your friend," is the real deal when it comes to emotional moments and McCoy's simple comment about Kirk getting out there to "hop galaxies" makes Kirk sound like the space age Don Draper (which maybe he just is).

So is it worthy of me doing a cred confession (i've done some pretty serious films)? Yeah, it is, it's a successful genre film that succeeds at becoming something more. Guess I'm starting to get it.