May 31, 2011

TPG's Game Time: Episode 7 "You Win or You Die"

R.I.P King of the Bros
I didn't think the King would go out so easily, but so it goes. All in all, other stellar episode featuring scheming, the return of my main meng Jon Snow, and some general ill tidings for Ned Stark? Will he go the way of Boromir? Is Sean Bean doomed to always get iced? Let's light up the torches and dive in.

Beheadings - 0
Creepy Incest Talk -1

1. If there is one staple thing that defines "Game of Thrones," it's the spear through the chest. Every single episode features someone getting a spear through the chest, whether it's in a raider attack, throne-room showdown, or just a courtyard confrontation, someone is having an intimate date with a spear.

2. If you're making a show/movie set in medieval times people are going to judge your work based off your market scenes. It is in the market that we see the extent of how the storyteller presents culture(or lack thereof) in an empire. The market scenes in "Gladiator" come to mind as examples of a way to show up the greater culture of a society. This episode's market scene complete with a gnarly whip takedown was fresh, with different kinds of merchants and of course some intrigue. Yet another why "Game of Thrones" is the best thing on TV right now.

3. If you're wondering where you've seen Tywin Lannister, aka the Elk skinner before, you saw in Arnold "classic" "Last Action Hero" as the dude with the crazy eyeballs.

4. Just when I think Jon Snow is down for the count, he shows up to drop the sickest monologue on the show yet, yes, I'm talking about the Watcher oath which I have shared (the coolest parts only) here: "I am the watcher on the walls. I am the fire that burns against the cold, the light that brings the dawn, the horn that wakes the sleepers, the shield that guards the realms of men. I pledge my life and honor to the Night's Watch, for this night and all the nights to come." Now what to make of his direwolf walking out of the woods with a hand, hopefully we'll be getting our blue eyed demons soon. Also if it's so damn cold up there, get a hat Jon Snow.

5. For those who are wondering, the woman that Little Finger was talking about while ummm giving advice to the fair maidens was Catelyn Stark. This could be pieced together from combining his conversations with Catelyn in earlier episodes. Thank god I have astute co-workers who pick up on this stuff....guess I was distracted during that scene.

6. The Lannister patriarch gutting that elk was definitely a metaphor for the brutality of the Lannisters. There are many animals on the show, whether it is the direwolves, Bram's raven, the Dothraki horses, or even the mythical dragons. Having a Lannister systematically gut en Elk is just a way to tell us they are evil bastards, but we already knew that.

7.  Now that all Ned Stark's scheming has cumulated with his letter getting torn up by Queen bitch Cersei and Little Finger betraying him, I'm starting to wonder how long Ned Stark is gonna last before he goes the way of Boromir. Perhaps the letter he sent off to the King's brother Stannis can save him.

8. Finally, that Dothraki war speech had me so amped I was ready to go attack my roommates/neighbors. Now every time I do anything I yell out "AS THE STARS LOOK DOWN IN WITNESS"
"I'm gonna roll on everybody!"

May 23, 2011

TPG's Game Time: Episode 6 "A Golden Crown"

Last week I was in awe of the horse chop and now this week I'm just wow....I mean....I've seen some shit...but having a pot of molten gold poured on a guy's face is pretty much the rawest thing I've ever seen on TV. Oh.....hey there, we did have an excellent episode last night as well, so why don't we put the pot on the fire and check out what's melting.

Beheading - .5 we got a throat slash

1. It is now clear to me that my obsession with dragons is making me blind to some serious plot points. For example I did not pick up that Daenerys did not get burned when she touched the scalding hot dragon egg but her chamber maid did. What is this magic? Is this because she is the dragon? And now someone else pointed out that she didn't get burned back in episode 1 when she was in the scalding hot bath, uh, I wasn't distracted by Dragon eggs then.

2. And I can't wait anymore, we gotta talk a little bit more about that golden face wash that Viserys Targaryen got at the hands of Khal Drago. Speaking of Khal Drago, has there ever been an easier part for an actor to play. Requirements include - being big, brooding, wearing eye shadow, looking intently, and speaking in a language that isn't subtitled so no one will know what you're saying.

3. SUBTLE MIND MELT WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS - So Bram is out in the woods having a ball in his new saddle when he gets attacked by half ewok/half men foragers. Luckily his bro comes and regulates on everyone except one woman. A woman played by actress Natalia Tena, who plays Tonks in the Harry Potter films. There is no way that this woman isn't going to be a major character in the rest of the season or future seasons. What is her place in this power struggle you ask? I think she will become an ally to help the Starks kill the Lannisters / White Walkers / Dragons (hey I can hope right).

4. Is there any doubt the King is some type of Medieval Frat All-Star? In this episode alone he talks about his epic bromance with Ned Stark, smacks around his wife who disrespects (I don't condone or encourage this behavior) and then talks about "making the 8" or banging a wench in the 8 different realms/kingdoms/houses. He also likes to drink. Medievel Frat bro fo sho.

5. One of the mysteries of this episode was why Bronn decided to fight for Tyrion Lannister in his trial. Was Bronn just bored and couldn't pass up the opportunity to toss some dude in a hole? Does have some simple respect for Tyrion after seeing him save the Queen last week? Or perhaps is he aligning himself with Tyrion to prepare for the coming Stark/Lannister showdown?

6. Where is Jon Snow and his fat sidekick?

7. "There is only one God and his name is Death. And there is only one thing we say to death: Not today." Alfred Molina aka Syrio Forel aka Qui Gon Jin to Arya Stark drops this money quote and I feel like it applies to the whole show. As they so frequently proclaim "Winter is coming" and death may not take us today, but it will take us in time....when things get the winter.

8. So Ned Stark gets to sit on the throne as a king and the first thing he does is order a mission to apprehend "The Mountain." I pray to the Game of Thrones gods we get to see 100 people try to take down the mountain, aka the horse chopper. That is going to be one hell of a fight.

9. I said earlier that "Game of Thrones" is following the neo-HBO model for new series that has the first six episodes being set-up and the final 7 being all epic kick-ass plot driven wonders of TV goodness. Game of Thrones is tearing it up right now!

May 19, 2011

The Hype Train: "Drive"

What's that noise? Ahhh, it's the TPG hype train leaving the station, but surprisingly there are no super heroes on board today. Not even robots! I'm here today to get you fired up about a little film called "Drive" from director/auteur/madman Nicolas Winding Refn. You might recognize that name as the Dutch madman behind such trippy films as "Bronson" and my personal fave "Valhalla Rising." Well Refn has a new film premiering at Cannes soon and hitting our shores in September and it's called "Drive" and you guessed it, it's about a getaway driver.

The film has assembled quite a cast anchored around the driver, played by, you guessed it Ryan Gosling.   Relax relax, this does not mean I've turned into some crying baby man who views "The Notebook" on repeat, I just know a future action star* when I see one in Gosling. He radiates a cool calm intensity that can snap at any moment. Granted I've read the script and watched the below clip, but Gosling here is just cool calm collected and potentially deadly.

If you can't tell by the clip, the film looks intense, not slam bang action, but more a slow burn of tension. Gosling is surrounded by an excellent supporting cast including Carey Mulligan,  Bryan Cranston, Ron Perlman, and in a bizarre yet cool stroke of casting genius, funny man Albert Brooks as an evil gangster. The story focuses on how the driver gets sucked deeper into the criminal underworld after a job goes wrong, that's all I'm really saying. And while I'm pretty sure there will be no one eyed Vikings, I'm confident that with Refn's expert direction and the stellar cast surrounded Gosling, this one will be thrilling for everyone, not just gear heads.

*Gosling is in fact linked to the hyper action gangster picture "Tales from The Gangster Squad" where he teams up with Josh Brolin to take down an evil mob boss played by Sean Penn.

**If you want to learn more of the film, check out theplaylist, they're obsessed with the film

May 16, 2011

TPG's Game Time: Episode 5 "The Wolf & The Lion"

Dayuuummmmmmmmmmm. In one single episode "Game of Thrones" delivered on everything that I had hoped it would be. Sword fights, intrigue, castles, dragons, SWORD FIGHTS, Eunich jokes...uhh what...demented children, and more! Titled "The Wolf and the Lion" this was one epic night of television, let's get the swords out and start slashing

Beheadings: 1 (1/2 point for horse, 1/2 point for eye poke)

Incest Count: .85 (Breastfeeding 8 year old)

1. Finally we get to see Ned Stark regulate like the Boromir we know he is. While I love a good sword fight, I find the character of Stark, expertly played by Sean Bean to be one of the most interesting on television. By having the show follow so many families we get a sense of Stark's convictions...even when they're wrong. I think back to the first episode where Stark lops off a guy's head for talking about the white walkers. The dead man was right. Now Stark leaves his position because he doesn't believe the Targaryen is with child. The king is right, an army is coming to destroy them. And finally his entire Stark brood thinks that Tyrion is responsible for Bram's injury, but in reality he could be their only ally. What are we to make of this when our protagonist is wrong most of the time? I'm not sure, but it sure is interesting.

2. Two words - Horse Chop! I've seen some crazy things on TV including but not limited to Jack Bauer biting off a terrorist's head, Jimmy Darmody shooting off people's faces, and Ron Swanson dancing, but wow, "The Mountain" chopping off that horses head was just bananas.

3. "Family, Duty, Honor!" This is the motto of the House of Stark and while watching this episode I was struck by how it repeatedly applies to everyone, not just the Starks. Tyrion Lannister went medieval on some raider with a shield out of honor, not because of family. Jaime Lannister takes down Stark because he's trying to find his brother. As for duty, look to the endless amounts of knights on every side that serve tirelessly and loyally even if it means taking a dagger to the eyeball!

4. Finally we got our first images of dragons. I was getting tired of seeing those damn eggs and hearing stories, so seeing their skulls was a real treat. If Game of Thrones gets cancelled before I get to see HBO do a CGI dragon I am going to have to petition hard for them to appear in Eastbound & Down.

5. Besides the over abundance of castles in this episode, let's talk about this Lysa Arryn woman for a second. Talk about a crazy bitch. Not only does she have the whole demented queen thing going on but he demonic little nine-year old is still being breast fed and wants to see the short man "fly." The whole scene was terrifying and it made me wonder if Worm Tongue had taken the throne

6. This episode really was the one where it all clicked. Sometimes this show can be pretty damn confusing with family trees, ancient legends, and a complicated network of alliances, but in this episode everything just fell into place gloriously. I cannot wait to see what happens next to Ned Stark but I anticipate he won't take getting a spear through the leg lightly. Also I was slightly bothered by the lack of Jon Snow in this episode, but I know he's gonna team up with his Pops and take care of business.

May 13, 2011

The Girl Next Door Music Video

Yeah, believe it, a video here that isn't a trailer for an action movie. Fact of the matter is "Bridesmaids" comes out this week and I'm excited to see it. Supposed to be pure hilarity with some good heart. I don't really watch the office but this video is pretty funny

May 11, 2011

Horrible Bosses Trailer

I've been anticipating this one for a while now. I keep hearing great things about everyone involved but specifically Colin Farrell. I should attest I have read the script and it's a real riot.

Exploding Popcorn Presents: Thor

Welcome to THIS LA LIFE summer movie season. I'll try to review each of the summer films in my recurring season called "Exploding Popcorn," why did I pick this title? Simply put because there is nothing better than a good onscreen explosion (literally and metaphorically) and a large tub of popcorn. Combine them and you have a perfect summer movie microcosm.

Thor is a movie of firsts. It's technically the first summer movie*, it's the first post Iron Man Marvel/Avengers set up film, the first film starring future mega-star Chris Hemsworth, and the first mega comic book movie for director Kenneth Branagh. It is however not the first film to feature some long hair dude go ape shit with a hammer, that would be "Oldboy" but we're not gonna go do that path.

Going through the archives, I found many articles about my trepidation regarding a "magical" super-hero. However, I can say the magic aspect of the film really sets it apart from other films both in the super-hero. Rainbow bridges, galaxies flowing into waterfalls, rotating multi-dimensional portals, basically it's like the rainbow road level from Mario Kart crossed with Rivendell (sorry about the nerd language).

But let's talk about the action right. Sure there's a decent romance with Natalie Portman and some serious  family drama with Odin (Anthony Hopkins) and Loki (Tom Hiddleston), but people wanna know how Mr. Hammer time compares to other super powered regulators? I can say that he delivers, at one point just straight up demolishing everything because he likes to fight. At this point he is responsible for the coolest OH SHIT MOMENT in the summer, but we'll have to see how some of the other movies shape up (I'm looking at you Transformers, Cap America, and X-Men).

I was pleasantly surprised by "Thor." With it's Shakespearian domestic drama in the clouds, funny fish out of water Earth jokes, decent romance, larger hints at the world of S.H.I.E.L.D, and hammering action, it's a great way to kick off the summer movie popcorn explosion.

*"Fast Five" was the unofficial start to the summer season. I didn't review cause I didn't need to. Everyone already knows it's the shit!

May 9, 2011

TPG's Game Time: Episode 4 "Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things"

And the wait continues. What wait?  The wait for the "bastard" Jon Snow to unleash with real violence instead of punches and takedowns. If the beheading count is going to rise, it will  be this dude's blade, mark my words. Let's dive in.

Decapitations - .25 (Some dude took a piece of wood to his throat in a joust)

Incest Count - 0, probably going to stop keeping track, it's a little dark.

1. Two words - Production Values!  Sometimes I am simply amazed by just how epic the whole thing is. I mean we have caravans of horses, excellent costumes, kick-ass choreographed fights, and eye-popping sets. Give it up for HBO and their courage (and deep pockets) for putting a show like this on the air.

2. THE RETURN OF THE MIND MELT WITH (THIS TIME WITH ROASTED FOWL) - So check it out, in Welsh mythology, Bran apparently is a crucial figure and you know what Bran means in Welsh... wait for it...."blessed raven." His dream where he followed a raven only to see it having three eyes, aka disabled like him, certainly is some type of omen. In folklore he goes to to become a protector of England, so who knows, come season 4, he could kicking ass like his bro, the Winter Soldier...Jon Snow.

3. Speaking of Bram - I loved seeing the blueprints for him to get back up on his horse, if only because they reminded me of "How To Train Your Dragon," which if you haven't seen it, is in my opinion a must see film. In that film the hero and his trusty dragon both learn to ride/fly post injuries, so in time, maybe little Bram will be back on that horse for real!

4. "Game of Thrones" is a killer name for a show, but you might as well call it "Long wait to see dragons" cause every single week we get some hint that there are flying fire breathing T-Rexs out there. I know they're supposedly dead, but there is no way we aren't going to get dragons at this point. I mean last night we had a 6 minute dragon speech given in a bathtub. Let me clear....I cannot wait to see how this show does dragons!!

5. Catelyn Stark is really playing sleuth now, but I wonder how her recent capture of Tyrion is going to play out, I think that she might end up gaining an ally where she thought to arrest an enemy. Tyrion seems to have some beef with his family members and I believe when he was he cares for Bran. I think he could be the guy who helps bring down the Lannisters.

6. The joust was one of the best scenes of the show. Not only did we get a terrifying parable of the dangers of family from resident facial hair tycoon Petyr Baelish, but we got a gnarly joust complete with a brutal death. Seeing the two Stark girls react to this was fascinating as Sansa Stark was looking petrified, but the next Karate Kid (don't act like you didn't see that stance) Arya Stark seemed to shocked but satisfied. Cannot wait til this chick becomes Red Sonya / Hit Girl.

May 4, 2011

Life The Movie: The Death of Bin Laden

There is a strong desire to see the photo of Osama Bin Laden with half of his head gone for a variety of reasons. Some people need to see to have some type of closure for for loved one lost. Other's need to believe the whole thing isn't some part of government conspiracy. And while there may be others that I missed, there is definitely a large amount of people who need to see it in order to process the full scope of the massive historical event.

We are living in a 24/7 visual society. Every news event now is captured on camera and dispersed on the internet. Most recently when the Earthquake/Tsunami struck Japan the world watched it in real time on everything from broadcast networks to the user uploaded youtube videos. In this decade any news event be it a natural disaster, a civil uprising in the Middle East, or even just a famous person's life are available to anybody with an internet connection. But this situation with the death of Bin Laden is different, the lack of visual footage is not clicking with our 21st century brains and people are trouble "believing" what happened solely because it's not accesible to them.

And there is no bigger source of accesible modern war imagery than popular video games. One must only look at the recent army ads and video games made by the army that merge between video game life and army life to see this.  It's no surprise then that a new game titled "Kuma\ War: The Death of Osama Bin Laden" from developer Kuma Game comes out this weekend. In response to criticism regarding his previous games ripped from real life events, Kuma Games CEO Keith Halper said:
"We hope that by telling their stories with such a powerful medium that we enable the American public to gain a better appreciation of the conflicts and the dangers they face." 
There is a fine line here between appreciating our military men and women and wanting to play out their lives in a virtual world. Releasing the photo may help people heal, but it will also just be a part of a society that craves visual verification without any consequence. One can look at the already huge internet memes (aka borderline mockeries) that have already popped up regarding Osama's death to see how today's military actions are tomorrow's joke tweet/facebook post. Our desire for verification for our hard wired media brains is a very slippery slope towards making war and violence have no consequence at all. And that is a dangerous thing indeed.

May 3, 2011

TPG's Game Time: Episode 3 "Lord Snow"

Considering the epic level of news that dropped right before I turned on Game of Thrones, my brain wasn't as dialed into the episode as it should have been. That being said, I did notice a couple of things that I can share with you, but first, I must attend to basic sword fighting 101.

Decapitation Count: 0 (weaaaaakkk)
Incest Count: .25 (implied)

1. I include the photo of Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister because he is clearly becoming one of the three best characters on this show. Who are the other two? Stay tuned and I let you know, but let's get back to Tyrion. From the start of the show when he was dropping knowledge while at a brothel to the scene last week when he was smacking around the medieval version of the Blank Check kid, he's alway has the right line or action. Not to mention Dinkage is a incredible actor.

2. Weak ass episode! Compared to last week, this was one was a total snooze fest. I can only sit through so many scheming meetings on big budget sets with ocean views with old men/bald men talk about the past as a means to communicate dire warnings about the future. Sure, the costumes are immaculate, the dialogue is well written, but it feels like nothing is really happening here. Where are the blue eyed demon and beheadings?

3. Ahh and now we have my second favorite character on the show: Daenery's Targaryen. Besides that fact that she's married to the EDNS (Eyeliner Dude No Speak), her character is consistently interesting because of her change. In the first episode she's weak and afraid, in the second she's in control, and now she's bossing around her shaaady brother and commanding the respect of the people with the whips and horses (ehh, sounds a little weird). But seriously, I'm intrigued to see how her rising leadership skills influence the greater story of the show

4. Based off this episode we can no doubt assume that Arya Stark will rise to become a battle trained heroine of the highest accord. In the first episode she proves to be proficient with a bow, in the second she's sword fighting, and in this one she's slamming knives into tables and receiving sword training from a funny accented afro dude while her father hums the Rocky theme song in his head.  Next week she'll probably be teaming up with Hit Girl

5. And my final favorite character is Game of Thrones resident badass Jon Snow. Considering everyone and their mother is telling us that "Winter is Coming" I'll side with the dude who's adept with a blade and his fists and last name is SNOW. Is there any more indication that this dude will be the Winter Soldier (Sorry Kosher D, I had to). People are telling him he's meant for bigger things, he wants to know the truth about his mother, and his in the same area as the evil blue eyed demons, soon they'll all meet in a bloodbath, I'm sure of this.

6. While this episode contained little to no action, I feel like a great deal of backstory was given to us. We had the creepy bedtime story about the White Walkers, stories of the mad king, epic tales of chest bursting battles from the king, tales of horse gods from the Dothraki, and more I can't remember. In future episodes when things are really popping off, we'll no doubt look back on this episode as some type of reference, let's just hope that were are not to cold to look back know....if you haven't been told 100 times yet.....Winter is coming!