November 18, 2013

How Is It Possible I'm Still Full From The Burrito I Ate At Lunch Yesterday?

I am the Nacho King, but apparently when it comes to burritos I'm barely in the royal court. You see yesterday I went to this old school East LA Burrito spot called El Tepeyac and got the original Hollenbeck Burrito. Ughhhhhhh, I'm so full off this thing still I can't even write correctly. My brain is not connecting with my body and the burrito beast lurking within has everything to do with it.

First a little background, the restaurant has been around since 1942. It was jammed with people when I got there. I ordered what they're famous for and they gave me this new burden. It was about the size of typewriter and no joke weighed 4 pounds. Here's the thing though, I didn't even eat the whole thing, right now the beast is in my refrigerator about 15 feet from me right now just beckoning. Loaded with chili verde sautéed pork, rice, and beans and covered in guacamole this culinary creation is unique in that it's haunting my dreams right now by delighting my past. I mean it was EXTREMELY tasty, but considering my current predicament, I'm debating if it was worth it. Just kidding it was worth it.

Now I'm at the point where I'm trying to figure out my next move. I've been drinking tons of water, taking vitamins and have been avoiding coffee even though I know it may be cure that need right now. I'm in a strange place right now between being seriously full but also moderately weak/tired. It's kind of like a perpetual itis, if you know what that is.

I think I'll eat a third of the burrito again for lunch tomorrow but that might be a bad idea, but I need to master this thing. I can't be a man in Los Angeles who prides himself on a decent knowledge of Mexican Cuisine (I prefer Cocina de Oaxaca brah) and not best this burrito, even it takes a lunch or lifetime. See you on the other side.

November 5, 2013

What I've Been Up To

Chances are you used to come here all the time and check out the content that I was cranking on the regular. I used to be a machine, but I'm not a Terminator. I'm just a human being and while it may look like I've been slipping on my blog game, I've in fact been pretty busy with various endeavors, most of them exciting. So, while my posting on the blog has been inconsistent here are some much more consistent ways to keep with me.

This LA Life YouTube Channel - Every Thursday since May I've been uploading videos of me in my garden. Some videos are informative and some videos are a little more wild, but all of them feature me in my garden just taking care of business. Be sure to subscribe to the channel and stay tuned for new videos!

The Survival Guide -  4 wild and far out links delivered to you every Saturday at 4:30PM PST. The genesis of the Survival Guide is that I find tons of wild shit on the internet each week and I want to share it with you. I discovered the coolest way to share the content (one video, one article, one set of photos, and one "mind bone") is via newsletter. I'd love to have you subscribe to it, CLICK HERE TO DO SO.
The Know - This is a brand new site that seeks to answer all of the questions that you never knew you had. It's a really cool site and I'm stoked to be able to contribute. They even let me write about everything from superheroes to my tendency to cry on airplanes! Check out all of my articles here

Thought Catalog - A great site that published thought provoking essays from a variety of writers, I've been super stoked to have appeared on here multiple times this year. I've written about everything from the similarities between my local Farmer's Market and the drug game to my love of letter writing. Check out all of my articles here.

Don't worry I'll still be doing Thrones recaps and posting movie reviews when I can. More importantly now that you've seen what I've been up to, what do you want me to write about? Leave a note in the comments?

October 24, 2013

Captain America 2: The Winter Solider Trailer

So stoked for this. Here are 10 reasons why.
  1. This looks like a spiritual follow up to "Clear and Present Danger." That movie is the shit btw.
  2. Anthony Mackie looks like he is beasting on people here
  3. You see that Heli-carrier crash?
  4. Robert Redford! Three Days of the Condor indeed!
  5. The fighting style looks more brutal than the first film
  6. Cars flipping over while driving is a surefire way to get me interested in any movie. In a Marvel movie....damnn.
  7. The Winter Soldier's fighting style is badass, you see that knife catch flip?
  8. On a similar note....the shield grab...whattt?
  9. This movie apparently leads into Avengers: Age of Ultron more than any other Marvel movie. Yes!
  10. Kind of looks like it has some spy elements. I like spys

October 7, 2013

Gravity: 10 Ideas to Keep in Mind for The Sequel and Beyond

"Gravity," the science fiction epic from Alfonso Cuaron is nothing short of awe-inspiring. I'll let others tell you how incredible the film is, but for now I want to focus on the follow up. Follow ups are an essential point of life/movies. "Godfather" gives us "Godfather II." "Iron Man" gives us the entire Marvel Cinematic Franchise. And "Avatar" gives us shitty "Clash of The Titans," just kidding, but from a technical perspective "Avatar" gives us the modern 3D film.

I've been hyping "Gravity" for a long time so the fact that it delivers is just epic, so now something needs to deliver again. So here we go: 10 ideas to consider once you've witnessed the wonder.

1. Before this film I thought of Special Effects as a way to create the fantastic. When I say fantastic I mean virtual worlds like "Avatar" or Hulk punching a alien beast in the face in "Avengers." "Gravity" uses special effects to create something entirely real and I really hope that the film pushes the visual effects medium towards more reality based visual effects work. I see the film as technical leap forward in the vein as "Jurassic Park" and "Avatar" and I can't wait to see what comes next.

2. If N.A.S.A was smart they'd built on the good will this movie generates for astronauts and space in general and use it to get people dreaming and wondering about space again. Maybe every dollar generated from the sequel goes to finance a major space mission.

3. "Gravity: Mission To Mars" - Imagine that, the same photo-realism, zero gravity, and minimal characters yet this time it's a hyper realistic space mission to some far off planet. H-O-L-Y SHIT that would be wild.

4. Grantland points out in their review, but Clooney's astronaut is as close to a real life Buzz Lightyear as we're ever going to get.

5. Supposedly the budget for the film was $100 million. Apparently the budget for "Avatar" was somewhere between 250 million and 500 million. Think about what you could do in the "Gravity" world with that kind cheese.

6.The film was phenomenal in it's use of sound, particularly the absence of it to create tension and mood. I'd love to see this technique used in everything from the Super Bowl (final drive in silence....whoah guy) to ordinary TV shows.

7. Between this and "The Blind Side" Sandra Bullock is rapidly America's favorite actress and just general favorite woman.

8. I particularly enjoyed the pretty direct spiritual metaphors in the film and I hope that more big budget films try to make statements about them. Not every blockbuster needs to be about how many suits Iron Man has or many ninjas Wolverine can slice to pieces. Of course there is nothing wrong with those blockbusters, but just give them a little meaning.

9. Back to point number 2, I'm not kidding, would you pay $40 dollars to the see the sequel if it meant that half of that went to N.A.S.A or a private company sending a manned mission to mars.

10. James Cameron sees this movie: Starts shaking in his boots, takes a deep breath, relaxes, then starts figuring out how he can make "Avatar 2" even more technically mind bending. Bring it Cameron, bring ittttt.

September 30, 2013

TPG's Chemistry Class: Series Finale - Felina - Breaking Bad Recap

That was a good finale when it needed to be excellent. All in all it was a fantastic, well written, expertly directed episode. I just thought it was a little too neat and because of that it exposed some wonderful questions about the show, but also some flaws about the final season. But let's just get right into it and since this is the last time I get to do this, they're won't just be ten points.

1. The opening image of this episode was snowy car window. I like to call it a blank slate. Fitting because this episode was a redemption tour for Walter White.

2. Vince Gilligan really proved himself as a director this episode. I particularly enjoyed all the ways that Walt was framed. The first time I noticed it was when he broke into Gretchen and Eliot's house. His face, full of calm threats haunting the innocent couple. This device was used multiple times in the episode and I'll point it out as we go along.

3. The scene with Gretchen and Eliot was the first indicator that this finale was going not going to be as dark and intense as I hoped. Let me ask you, who were you rooting for in that scene? Were you fearing for the Schwartzs' life? Or were you all like "yeah Walt, make em do what you say, taunt them with a promise of future death in European cities." I imagine you were probably rooting for Walt. That's the problem, this is a dude who's done a ton of really bad shit over the course of the show and we really shouldn't be rooting for him. Remember just how creepy you felt when Walt went to visit Andrea and Brock? Thought so. How about when he gave up Jesse to be killed? Now you're rooting for him again which is a deft stroke by the writers but feels somewhat false in the scope of the entire show. Also why didn't he just knock on their door? Isn't he the one who....ok...lame joke.

4. I did love seeing Badger and Skinny Pete back in action. Hopefully they start a Star Trek inspired band with those earnings.

5. The ricin, something had to happen with it. Yet I'm not going to lie it's very convenient storytelling that he was able to sneak it into the sweetener packet. Keep in mind the last time the ricin was used, it involved a complicated swap with fast hands Huell and now we don't even see how he got it there. It's not nitpicking if they've already established these complex ricin rules in the show before. Just a little too convenient.

6. So in the end Marie ends up with a nice home as a lonely widow. Skyler ends up a chain smoking mess with bizarre plastic surgery lips. Rough ending for Skyler.

8. The best part of the finale and probably the entire final season was the "I did it for me. I liked it. I was good at it. I was alive" line. Short, powerful, and perfect. Also a nice little shout-out to my persona liberty theory from yonder year.

9. We got another great framing shot of Walt the Father looking through the window at Flynn coming home. Heartbreaking.

10. Still find it hard to believe that the DEA wouldn't be able to spot Walt at the house. Also while I'm at it. Gus Fring had Walt cooking UNDERGROUND. This skin-head lab was out in the open at a time when one of the best agents was gunned down in a drug-related crime. How did the DEA not find that compound in the entire year Jesse was cooking? I guess once Steve Gomez died the entire DEA went to shit.

11. Nice to see Todd get his but I didn't really feel that much when Jesse did it. I always saw Jesse as a much more sympathetic character than Walt. I mean he was a mess after he killed Gale. Seeing him brutally murder Todd was satisfying, but also made me sad because the ultimately morally sound Jesse seemed to have finally disappeared.

12. Oh I didn't even mention that I thought the machine gun contraption was cool but a little too much. Walt was a chemist! He was not an an electrical and mechanical engineer. When has he ever made something that complex before? Every badass stunt he pulled involved some level of chemistry. Maybe the train robbery but he had help with that!  That was one serious contraption for him to make, not to mention all the intangibles involving parking logistics.

14. Loved how when Jesse was going to kill Walt it was the exact same imagery as when he killed Gale. Also was very into the fact that he didn't kill Walt.

15. Was Jesse yelling because he was released or because he had been through so much he was finally lost his mind once and for all. I prefer the second option. Also

16. MIND MELT In the end in that final brilliant shot while Walt is lying on the floor of the lab, did you catch how Walt's body was divided up the beams. A powerful final shot for the series. Walt was a man of many different parts. Father. Husband. Chemist. Meth Dealer. Genius. The list is endless. A powerful visual metaphor for all the things that make us who we are.

17. When it comes to finales, it's always hard to balance what you personally want with the judgement made by the people who actually make the show. I wanted Walt to answer for his sins in a more brutal way. But for me, this episode was WAYYY too much of a happy ending. Don't try to tell me it wasn't, here are the things that work out for Walt:

  • Establishes a fund for Flynn & Holly
  • Scares the shit out of his old nemesis and the woman that scorned him
  • Got to show some love for Badger and Skinny Pete
  • Make relative peace with Skyler and Holly
  • Killed Lydia
  • Killed all the nazis who killed his brother in law.
  • Specifically blew the head off the dude who specifically killed his brother in law.
  • Made relative peace with Jesse his true son.
  • Died in the only place that really made him feel alive - the lab.
Yeah I'd say that it was a happy ending for Walt the sociopathic drug lord. Not what I would prefer but I guess in the end he wasn't really a bad guy. Just a down on his luck cancer patient trying to provide for his family. Right?

18. Ultimately though I'm satisfied with it, I just wish that it took some more risks. Vince Gilligan said there is a much darker and rougher ending that they considered but opted to go for it. I just wished that they didn't feel that Walt needed his happily ever after.

It's  been a real  blast writing these recaps. Thanks for reading and be sure to stay tuned as Game of Thrones returns next year!

September 24, 2013

Breaking Bad Aims For It's Scarface Moment (And Drake Came Along As Well)

From Mr. Chips to Scarface - Vince Gilligan

As we near the final episode of Breaking Bad we must revisit the season's essential opening image. Yes I'm talking about that gigantic machine gun featured above. Now I've covered the machine gun before in my opening post on the season a year ago. There I get all excited about a Hank-Heisenberg showdown, and while I'm still excited for the finale, I'm feeling more than a little nervous as well. The reason has to do with the above quote from Vince Gilligan the show runner. If the show started with Mr. Chips then it's going to end with "Scarface" and based off the image above and the set-up last week, I'd say we're going to get Walter White's Tony Montana moment soon. And I'm not sure how I feel about that.

"Scarface" is a fantastic movie that has reached cult-status for a variety of reasons including Pacino's titanic performance, hip-hop culture latching onto it with a vice grip, and a pretty tight script written by Oliver Stone. Even now rap golden Boy is still referencing the film in his latest music video. Like many others Drake seems to latch onto the violence of the film.  The final iconic images of the film are Tony Montana with his gigantic machine fighting to the death versus his enemies/the world. I worry if Mr. Gilligan has latched onto that image as well. If he has we may be due for an ending that could disappoint us.

Maybe I wasn't clear enough in that last sentence. If at any point in this finale we get former teacher, cancer suffering, Walter White blasting people with that much firepower I will be disappointed. Sure I have no doubt it will be shot spectacularly, but I don't think it will resonate. The reason for that is that Heisenberg is almost purely built on the power of his mind, which is what makes him a unique anti-hero. The great Heisenberg moments have involved more careful planning and science that physical force. Sure the Gus Fring bomb was badass, but it was the set-up that was more brilliant. Dispatching all of his foes at once even while some in prison, cunning and smart, but not physically hard for Heisenberg. As a kingpin, Walt works well without having to do the dirty work himself. 
Now the times when Heisenberg himself, mainly the early days of killing low-level dealers, including the ones he so memorably ran over have all been born of out circumstance and need not careful planning. If you need more evidence that Walt isn't that good of assassin just look how he almost botched killing Mike last season. For this reason Walter White is much more Michael Corleone (that's the Godfather yo) than Tony Montana. Michael does get dirty himself, but it also much more calculating and deeply sinister than Tony Montana. Gilligan has said that he cribs from the Godfather for the show all the time and that's OK with me, because the parts of the Michael character he has put in Walter White are the best.

So if he's cribbing from "The Godfather" but referencing "Scarface" what are we going to get on Sunday? My hope is that by referencing "Scarface" in that legendary quote, Gilligan was just trying to pull in all the worshippers of that movie and we will actually get a finale where Heisenberg plans his attack with the careful precision of a scientist scorned. Leave the shootouts in Miami, give us the psychological showdown. That's the true Heisenberg.

September 15, 2013

TPG's Chemistry Class: Season 5, Episode 14 - Ozymandias (Breaking Bad Recap)

Whoah. Just got out of the shower. Why? Because that episode just made me feel completely dirty and filled with dark energy. This episode more than any other episode in the show just propels things completely forward. Where things go from here, who knows? Well actually, we kind of know because they involve a machine gun and some ricin. So now that the reaction has begun, let's just get right into it.

1. I loved the opening sequence of the happier times. Yet when Walt was taking the phone call with Skyler, did you catch how the shot was framed. Walt on one side, the RV in the middle, and Jesse on the other. Clever way to show just what had been connecting the goofy burnout talking to himself in the desert to the family man lying to his wife.

2. RIP Gomez, you had some great one liners. But seriously, how is Gomez going to bite it so brutally and Hank is going to get off (at first) with just a leg wound? What?

3. So far Walt has used the "fresh start" pitch on three people. First was Jesse. Second was Hank. And finally his family. Didn't work on anybody. Not only does Walt needs to get a new pitch, but he really needs to see how futile an offer it really is. Of course he'll learn this when he tries to go for a fresh start with the maroon van man and sees that it doesn't really work out.

4. Visual metaphors were abound in this episode. Here they are:

  • The boiling water that opened the episode. Shows how things will finally react.
  • Walt looks into the rear view mirror as he's pulling away. He knows that his past is the past but he's still going to have to deal with it.
  • Walt approaches the wise native american dude but a fence separates them. The fence signifies morality, this is evident by the skull hanging on the fence.
  • Marie is in black all episode, probably because whether she knows it or not Hank is toast.
  • The colors of the clothes Holly wears are the exact same as the famous pink teddy bear.
  • The car that Walt is in driving into the sunrise, not the sunset. This means he's off to a new life, although who knows how long it will last.
  • Half of Jesse's face is completely mangled and destroyed, this is evidence of how is half broken but still has fight in him left.
  • The dog seen at the end signifies Jesse who frequently associates with dogs (Problem Dogs, Rabid Dogs) on the show. The dog's path crosses with the car. Jesse and Walt will meet again.

5. "What's with all the greed here, it's unattractive," probably the most bizarrely zen thing ever said by a white supremecist on TV.

6. So the Jane death finally comes around full circle and I gotta say that was totally brutal. I guess since the reaction began at the pilot episode, Walt has been slipping further and further into darkness, and we didn't get a slip, we got a full plunge tonight. But still hearing him say it was so brutal.

7. Earlier I said RIP Gomez, guess I forgot to say RIP Hank. I knew he wasn't going to be around at the final episode, but I'm surprised he made it this far.

8. Yeesh, how terrifying is that lab set-up for Jesse. Chained to the ceiling, horribly beaten and disfigured, taunting by a threat to the only people he cares about, and of course locked in there with America's resident baby-faced psycho killer who "he has a history with!"

9. ULTIMATE MIND MELT FOR BREAKFAST -  One of the most striking things about this episode was how right until the end, the mega dramatic beats tended to occur offscreen. We were really only treated to the aftermath of Hank actually being shot, Jesse being tortured and giving up the information, and Flynn hearing the truth about his Dad. This is no doubt a decision by Vince Gilligan and co to prep us for the final satanic Walt monologue. It worked brilliantly.

10. DESSERT FOR MIND MELT - I was struck that that Walt snatched up the baby. His affection for Holly reminded me of another bald criminal who cared deeply for his family. That man would be Mike Ehrmantraut who like Walt left his daughter behind when the heat was closing in.

11. The real mystery of this show is who the hell is driving that maroon van?

September 9, 2013

TPG's Chemistry Class: Season 5, Episode 13 - To'hajiilee (Breaking Bad Recap)

And now the bullets are flying! Last night's peculiarly titled episode "To'hajiilee" saw the story rocketed forward in a major way. It will certainly be interesting to see where things go from here. But outside of the last 15 minutes, there was a boatload of visual metaphors, awesome call-backs, and more just brimming at the surface. So let's send some picture messages and get into it.

1. Todd as a character is completely fascinating. On one hand he is an earnest, hard-working all American boy next door. He wants to make people happy, do good work, and stay close with his family. Just like he was with Mr White, he was so eager to please Lydia during their little brief conversation, I think it made her uncomfortable. Of course it needs to be noted that he is a child-murdering drug dealing neo-nazi, so yeah he's not that much of an all American boy next door. This duality is the backbone of "Breaking Bad." Each character is a Jekyll & Hide situation with their normal self (teacher, cop, drug-dealer) and then their demented other side (kingpin, vigilante, kind hearted do-gooder). These world's can't stay separate forever and we saw that first hand tonight.

2. Why was the first point not about the shoot-out that closed out this episode? Good question because this was one of the best shootouts I've ever seen on television. Slow motion shot gun blasts, cars being torn to pieces, and of course stunning Western cinematography. That being said I'm shocked that Gomez and Hank are still alive 10 seconds into this thing, I mean those Neo-Nazis had some "Expendables" like weapons!

3. MIND BONE WITH EARLY SIDE OF BACON - Did you catch all the mentions of brands during tonight's episode? The show is as much as study in American Business as it is a character study. In the opening we saw Lydia complain the meth wasn't on brand because it wasn't blue. Later we saw Skyler explain the importance of reinforcing the car-wash brand. Just how important is a brand to these people. Well to Lydia it's important enough that those nazi's are damn sure not going to kill Walt in that cross-fire, him/his product is the essential brand. Everyone else? Not so much? And the car-wash? It's just a matter of keeping up the front, and considering Skyler didn't say it when Saul came in, it looks like the brand is tarnished.

4.Who knew that Huell was a stand-up comedian when he hasn't using his "fastest fingers in the west" hands? Just kidding, but props to Lavell Crawford who's acting in his one scene tonight was excellent!

5. It was no accident that Walt went to see Brock and Andrea before the shit went completely sour for him with the neo-nazi. The entire scene was chilling and based off the Brock was acting he either is still recovering from the poisoning or he is aware of what a monster Walt is. Watching this scene was a great way for the writers to remind us of just how demonic Walt has become. When he finally gets arrested by Hank, I actually felt pretty good. Justice served. Yeah! High Five! Oh, who's that on the horizon.

6. MIND BONE CONTINUED WITH MORE BACON - I never noticed before but Walt's white jacket has a blue lining. This is a great visual metaphor to show how the pull of the "blue magic" is, just like the cancer, is getting closer to consuming him. Later when he drives to the desert, he's wearing a blue shirt. I wonder if we'll see him in an even more blue (prison outfit, chemical suit) in the future? Also the influence of the blue goes beyond him, notice just how bluuueee Walter Jr. and Skyler were at the car-wash. Sign up to cook again and the blue evil just seeps right back in.

7. I'm still un-sure if it was being recorded, but a frantic Walt on the phone confessing to almost everyone of his crimes was beyond sloppy writing. If that recording surfaces again, I'll be disappointed. Just feels too easy for a masterful show like this.

8. Every time I see Todd's uncle Jack I get freaked out. There is something so terrifying about how methodical and business like they are with their jobs. What do you call that? Ahh, yes there it is again, being on BRAND. 

9. Again we got some HEAVY western tropes in this episode. Everything from the positing of Gomez, Jesse, Hank and Walt in the desert, to ye' olde time double cross, to of course a big shootout was Wester inspired. However beyond all the visual, I love how in the end, I love how finally it was a double cross by a partner/friend/and "son" that took Walt down. Betrayal's like the one Jesse did to Walt (if you want to call it that) are an essential part of western and crime narratives. So we'll have to see if Jesse can sit there and watch him die or if his moral compass will guide him to saving Walt?

10. CUFFS ON HEISENBERG - How did you feel when the protagonist/antagonist finally felt that cold steel on his bones? Were you sad, frustrated, elated, or something else? As I said above, because I had seen the chilling Walt-Andrea scene I felt pretty great about it. Here is a man that has killed a lot of people and generally truly deserves what's coming. On the other hand, because of the flash forward I knew he wasn't going to get locked up, so it wasn't that satisfying. 

Quick prediction go! Hank & Gomez are toast. Walt says he wont' cook if they kill Jesse, Walt cooks, kills everyone on some science tip and busts out. Final showdown will be him going to save Jesse from whoever is running things (more nazis or Lydia?)

August 26, 2013

TPG's Chemistry Class: Season 5, Episode 11 - "Confessions" (Breaking Bad Recap)

Now that we are three episodes into the the final batch of episodes, I have to say that this not how I expected the show to be progressing at this point. Yet balancing expectations and the story that is delivered is what entertainment is all about, so while I am disappointed this episode wasn't as epic as others, I do think it was a great one indeed. But let's save those thoughts for the points below. I'm going to go slap kid on a bicycle so he isn't protected by the Nanny State.

1. Todd and his lovely Nazi family seem wildly unpredictable at this point in the story. The physical look of Todd has grown more intense and he doesn't have the same kind of youthful innocence that he had last season. Yet he still tells train heist story to his uncles and seems very eager for some validation. Ahh kids these days. But speaking of the Todd of it all, how does he fit into the end-game for the show. Smart money would be on Jesse killing him as some kind of psychological vengeance for killing motorcycle boy.

2. EARLY MIND MELT FOR YA - Walt puts on Skyler's make-up to cover his protect himself from inquiry about the wounds on his face. This is a clear metaphor for her increasing role as his partner in his fight against Hank. Notice that Skyler's shirt in the dinner scene above was almost the exact color of the makeup he put on.

3. In case you haven't heard, Anna Gunn wrote a column in the New York Times how people hate her because they have so much beef with Skyler. I find this hate to misplaced because behind almost every strong man is a strong woman and we saw that tonight. The scenes with Marie and Skyler scheming with their respective husbands reminded me of some ancient Greek tragedy. You know, two sisters working with their warrior husbands before they go do battle or some shit like that. I mean everyone knows you need a wife for advice, but advice on things like this, that's next level.

4. The whole Heisenberg confession tape is a little zany for me. It feels like for the first time the show is reaching a little bit to create drama and tension. I'll go with it to see where it ends up. I do love how it is a shout out to Walt's first confession tape he recorded way back in the pilot.

5. Gotta love that lower lip quiver on Dean Norris while he's watching the confession tape. It's either fantastic acting or he was just hungry. Both are great.

6. "Saul knows a man who can give you a new life." He may drive an old van but I wonder if this is the last we see of this character with a particular set of skills - that is, making someone disappear. Considering that Walt's appearance in the flash forward episode openers causes great shock to his neighbor, I wonder if Walt will be put in touch with this man.

7. I'm not going to sugarcoat it, that hug in the dessert was one of the more emotional scenes on the show ever. Just a nice moment for Jesse and Walt, and considering that Jesse is going to burn down their house, I'd say it's most likely one of the last.

8. Last time Huell did a little hot hands swap on Jesse it wasn't nearly as obvious as it was this time. I wonder if this much more direct take was a studio note telling Gilligan and company to be more clear.

9. I love how the structures behind Jesse when he was waiting for his pickup looked like tombstones. It was as if every person he has killed was behind him watching him as he tried to make his escape. Also makes me wonder if he is a dead man himself.

10. These past two episodes have been a little too slow for me. Maybe I'm just conditioned from summer blockbuster season, but I want things to really ramp up. After this weeks ending I know they will.

No recap next week as I'll be out of town, if you want to guest write it, just email me!

August 18, 2013

TPG's Chemistry Class: Season 5, Episode 10 - "Buried" (Breaking Bad Recap)

Now that Old Man Withers aka the Santa Claus of Albuquerque has found his money, I think it's time for us to talk about the latest episode of "Breaking Bad." Titled "Buried" I found the episode to be one of the weaker episodes of not just the season, but of the entire show, but more on that in a little bit. So let's strip down to our dungaroos and get this thing going.

1. After opening with the ferocity of a meth overdose, the show was bound to come down a little bit on the intensity scale in this episode, but this episode felt slower than usual. I found some of the family scenes to be overtly soapy. In fact, the baby tug-of-war moment felt very out of place on the show. I understand that the relationship between Skyler and Marie is crucial to the show's endgame but that scene just felt forced. So did the slap. Am I alone on this? Sound off in the comments.

2. Dean Norris (Hank) was killing it in this episode acting wise. When people praise the acting on Breaking Bad it's always about Aaron Paul, Bryan Cranston, or Giancarlo Esposito (when he was around), but I rarely hear Norris get mentioned. Hopefully that will change after this episode because boy was Norris on point. Can't wait to see his interrogation of Jesse next week. Why do I think it may take a very "Dark Knight" like turn?

3. MILD MELT WITH CHEEZE WIZ - How many times have we seen important meetings between important figures at diners on this show? Walt, Jesse, and Gus and others are/were all frequent diner goers for important conversations, so it's refreshing to see Skyler get her on diner showdown. Worth noting that Skyler's food scenes usually take place within the home, but now she's operating beyond her domestic circle. Is this an indication that she is getting deeper into the criminal empire. I think so.

4. This episode more than any previous one was about the role that family plays in our lives. Walter reveals that he just wants his family to have the money. That's all that matters to him. Marie and Hank's  aggression toward Skyler (baby-stealing included) was based in protecting their extended family. Jesse is lost because he doesn't have any family, not enough his surrogate father in Walter. Now who has a family to rely on? That would be Todd his Neo Nazi Uncle. Lydia with her Czech buyers and friends in Todd. Shit, maybe even Hank in the DEA? But can that much family be a weakness? After all it has been used by Heisenberg before to manipulate people to act a certain way.

5. Let's give it up for Kurt Nicholas Forshager. Who? That would be the sound designer for the show (which is consistently amazing). I'm not talking about the score. I'm talking about the way that the car engine lingered in the first scene, just lingering in the background of the scene. There are other examples of brilliant design throughout the show. What's your favorite?

6. MIND MELT WITH CHEDDAR INFUSED BACON - Whenever I see a barrel on the show I think of either meth or dead bodies. Throughout the show that has been the through-line for barrels. But now we see barrels full of money and I'm wondering just how much, in the eyes of a show is a human life worth? The episode already showed the brilliant body-money size comparison with Huell & Kuby so it wants us to think about that. To Jesse the money is worth nothing. To Walt, it's worth everything. But would the value change if the money was stacked up with the worth of a life? Would Walt give up the money if the Neo-Nazi-Czech-Madrigal consortium threatened his family?

7. 34, 59, 20, 106, 36, 52. I guess TV has a new set of numbers now

8. Last week Hank said "screw family" this week he wants to protect Skylar and their family. Which Hank will rise to the occasion when they release that his rehab treatment was paid with drug money?

9. So Todd makes his first appearance and he brought his terrifying neo-nazi uncle Jack with him. This scene out in the desert showed that while Hank and Walt are playing cat and mouse, outside a bigger much more sinister predator is lurking.

10. How many people has Saul sent to Belize?

August 11, 2013

TPG's Chemistry Class: Season 5, Episode 9 - "Blood Money" - Breaking Bad Recap

If there is one thing that is certain after tonight's season premiere of "Breaking Bad" it's that Walter White is very good at knocking on doors. I mean this both literally (seriously, just firm, powerful knocks) and metaphorically in the sense that he's opening doors which lead to some very dire places. But we're just starting off in this final season, so what do you say we eat some potato salad and get into it?

1. Skateboarding is a great metaphor for criminals. It requires an understanding of the basics, but allows for plenty of improvisation. It can be done almost anywhere but anywhere you do it it's basically the same thing. And finally, much of it, or at least the skateboarding we saw tonight, involves a rise and fall. Rise and fall. Are we seeing the fall of the mighty Walter White or maybe just his further ascent?

2. At first I thought the "Heisenberg" graffiti was there inside the home as some kind of taunt, but since  Walt is still out there I wonder if "Heisenberg" has become become an even more elevated mythic figure in the drug world than he ever was before. 

3. I honestly don't care that much about what happens with the ricin, seems like a small beans item in the scope of all the other deeper thematic issues at play here.

4. Gotta love those rolling oranges in the street. Vince Gilligan loves his "Godfather" references. Whether they mean that Walt or Carol is on the way out remains to be seen.

5. SNEAK ATTACK MIND MELT WITH EXTRA PIZZA FOR SKINNY PETE - Hank is the new   Heisenberg. What? When I say that I mean that he is consumed by ego and a thirst for glory. Notice how quickly he shuns the other DEA agents? He wants to be the guy who took down Heisenberg, his shot at glory. It doesn't matter if it is former friends at Grey Matter technologies or the DEA, both Walt and Hank are driven by desire to be recognized. Walt got his recognition, savored it, and legitimately seems to want to live a "decent life." Hank...he wants people to remember him.

6. I guess it's cool that Badger is such a Trekkie, but it is still way cooler that Skinny Pete is a fantastic piano player.

7. Skyler standing up to Lydia was a cool "she is the danger now" moment but I think Skyler has no idea who is she is messing with. Lydia may come across as a high strung bitch, but she is an international criminal who has no problem having people killed. I don't think Skyler can handle her, although pointing out she was washing a rental car was a great pick-up.

8. Jesse was really getting his "You Shall Know Our Velocity...." on when he was throwing that money away, but he needs to reign his shit in. Honestly, considering he was a mess at the start of last season as well, his losing his soul shtick is getting slightly old and I hope the writers find something better for him to do than be mopey as hell all the time.

9. With all it's zany camera angles, striking colors, and expert production design, sometimes the show just wins when it goes the simple route, like the bags of money dividing the two former partners on the couch.

10. For almost the entire show Hank and Walter have been playing this game of cat and mouse. It's clear that Hank is a severely unprepared mouse and Walt is the gigantic demonic Lion who will crush him. I found it interesting that Hank disavowed his family when Walter is begging to try to salvage his. Different people with different priorities at this point in time. Hank will be dead by the midpoint of the season.

Shredding The Subtle: The High Impact Power Of Elysium

"Elysium" is the summer movie you've been waiting for. I mean I feel kind of bad putting the "summer" tag in front of it because while it is extremely entertaining and packed with awesome action and cutting edge visual effects, it is the film's political courage that elevates it to the next level. This is a film that speaks to real life issues like immigration, health-care, national security, and corporate power. director Neill Blomkamp's last film "District 9" also touched on politics and social issues and he proves with this one that in addition to being a masterful director with a distinct visual style, he's not afraid to show us how he feels about the present by using the timeless power of science fiction spectacle.

The center of the film is Matt Damon. He plays an ex-convict turned factory worker who lives in the polluted slums of a futuristic (2154 to be exact) Los Angeles. After a factory accident leaves him with radiation sickness, he makes a pact with underworld figure Spider (Wagner Moura) which guarantees him a trip to Elysium. He also picks a metal exo-skeleton to help him with the job. Sharing a name with the Greek Afterlife, Elysium is a futuristic space station where the richest of earth's citizens live a trouble free life complete with perfect weather and medical pods that cure all diseases. Elysium's Secretary of State is Delacourt (Jodie Foster) and she calls the shots behind the scenes in a way that would make Dick Cheney proud. When Max and Spyder somehow get involved in one of her schemes, she sends psychopath special agent Kruger (Sharlto Copley) after them. That's all I want to tell you, but the film does have some great twists to the narrative all the while staying emotionally fixed on Max's struggle.

By far the most magical aspect of the film is the incredible world that Blomkamp and his team have created. Similar to the classic "Minority Report," the world of the film comes across as a futuristic version of our own. Tiny details like how the droids in the film move, the futuristic weapons tech, and the focus on physical augmentation all make the film both extremely realistic and familiar. Because it comes across as familiar, the action scenes, and there are many, are brutal and exciting. It doesn't matter if it's how a futuristic weapon makes bodies explode or how a luxury space shuttle reminds you of a Mercedes couple, the action and world design hits home.

Speaking of hitting home, the film doesn't hold back when it comes to its political beliefs. With only the elite living on Elysium and the poor stuck down on earth, the film shows the extreme end of the belief that 1% of the world has all the wealth. Other ideas like access to health care, corporate greed & corruption, and immigration are all over the film. It's far from subtle, but the way I see it, we don't exactly live in subtle times these days. When it comes to most issues, people are either in one camp or the other, with no love being shown for the middle. Elysium, so firm in it's beliefs, is not in the middle. It's firmly in the left and shoots these ideas at you with the force of the many futuristic flesh exploding guns featured in the film.

I'm a sucker for all things Sci-Fi. I would probably pay pretty good money to just see space-ships fly across a movie screen with great sound. And while the movie does have some cool space-ships it also has a simple but effective story to tell, and it does it very very well. I saw it three days ago and I'm still thinking about both the emotional ending and all the ridiculously badass fight scenes. Any movie that can give you the emotions, the action, and ideas that challenge you is one that works very well in my book. It's a fantastic film and as I was walking out I was thinking how I can't wait to see what Blomkamp does next. The countdown begins now.

July 30, 2013

July 23, 2013

Why The Batman-Superman Team-Up Movie Is A Huge Risk

I was at Comic Con with my fellow movie/comic book nerds when Zack Synder announced that Batman would be joining Superman in the sequel to "Man of Steel." And even though it had been spoiled on twitter hours before, my mind was still blown to pieces when I heard it. It's no secret I'm a big fan of the Batman movies and while there were some good parts in "Man of Steel," I generally thought it was too long, too emotionally cold, and had way too much unnecessary destruction. And I'm not alone in this, critically "Man of Steel" received a mix reaction and the hardcore fans were mainly distraught over the insane amount of violence that Superman dishes out compared to the amount of people he actually saved. Which is why I think Batman is being added to the next Superman movie to save the Superman franchise from itself. This is not a good thing.

You see, for all their flaws, the Batman that we all know and love these days is the Christopher Nolan Batman. This is a Batman that is grounded so firmly in reality, there is never any mention of anyone having super-powers EVER in the movies. And you know what, audiences loved it, ask anyone why the Batman movies are awesome and you'll get a response along the lines of "it's so gritty and real," which is true. And even though "The Dark Knight" trilogy ended with a firm conclusion, we all still identify with this Batman and hope/expect to see him again. And the character appearing on screen again, like it or not, we will be bringing our pre-conceptions of the Nolan Batman with us.

We're doing for a massive moment of reckoning when the Batman that appears in this epic team-up is different than Nolanized version of the character. The reason for this is that if you're playing by the rules established in "Man of Steel," he totally has to be. How the hell is a Nolan era Batman going to compete with a dude who can punch people through buildings? Hell, he barely could handle Bane and he was (super) human! The answer is that the Batman we get in this movie is going to be radically different, he'll probably have to be way more intelligent and have access to serious technology. A great comic book friend pointed out that there is no mention of Kryptonite in "Man of Steel" so maybe Batman creates/discovers it? But keep in mind that the Nolan Batman is very physical, or at least he was in "The Dark Knight Rises," and he's not that smart, he got duped by Miranda Tate and tricked into a weak fight by Bane! Are you ready for this somewhat nerdy version of Batman? I don't think I am. I'm concerned that this new hero will come across as cheesy and bizarre, which is the opposite of what the Nolan films were all about.

I realize that DC didn't really have much choice and that had to put the two characters together. After all they had to compete with the Marvel cinematic Universe somehow, I just extremely worried that whatever this mash-up looks like will come across and totally strange and foreign. Let's hope that Synder is up for the task, because let's be clear about this, in the eyes of everyone he's not making a sequel to "Man of Steel," he's making a follow up to "The Dark Knight" trilogy, which is a super-heroic undertaking itself.

July 15, 2013

How I Would Have Ended Pacific Rim...

Pacific Rim was OK. It had too much hokey dialogue, stock characters, too many rain/night battles, and too many missed opportunities, specifically surrounding the finale.  But it also was a really cool world, so rather than a traditional review, I'm going to try something new, here is how I would have ended this ULTIMATE POPCORN MOVIE. Warning here by typos!

Throughout the film I was a little disturbed by how much the daily lives of the people of the world goes on with these monsters destroying everything. Where is the sense of sacrifice? That collective unity? I want that Independence Day feeling of the entire world united vs them. They talk about it in the first 10 minutes, but it's not really felt throughout the movie when people are living in slums and getting on with their life.  Raise the stakes! So here the stakes are raised to insane levels.

The scientists predict that the rift is going to open and whole bunch of monsters are coming and it's going to take more than some Jaegers to save humanity. I'm talking entire cities going onto their roofs with weapons both traditional and improvised. If Ron Perlman can cut through a baby with a knife and the Australians can "piss one off" with some simple flares, some rockets, bullets, ninja stars could some damage. Also, yeah the whole massive final fight for the human race is going down in Tokyo, because it's nice nod to the manga roots of the film and also Tokyo is cool.

And for the most part it works, Kaijus are getting there ass kicked by Jaegers and a united force of human, who have also booby trapped the city.  You see the humans got smart and realized they sustain heavy losses at sea, but on the land, they can play ball. Skyscrapers are booby trapped, fire hoses are filled with gasoline and turned into flamer throwers. Everyone is helping out and kicking ass. They think they won..... until a Stage Five comes through the rift and towers over the city, everyone collectively deuces themselves. Unlike when we saw it underwater, we see how massive this thing really is because it TOWERS over the city.  But then Idris Elbra speaks not to the Jaeger pilots but to everyone in the entire city. He says something like this:
So now we see what the they have sent to destroy us. Good, I like to know my enemy before I kill it. This is our land. This is our home. We may be from different countries and speak different languages but this is our earth. If you can, now is the time to fight. You will either die and wish you did more or fight and die and know that you did everything you could. People will perish fighting this demon, that is certain, but what else is certain is that we will slay this beast, just like we slew it's whole fucking family! So now, grab anything that can help and join with me! This is where we take a stand! Let us show these invaders how we, citizens of earth destroy those who would test us!
People are obviously super fired up after that speech. They're grabbing forks, curtain rods, hair dryers, baseball bats, soccer balls, anything that can puncture Kaiju flesh and they take the buildings, the streets, and everywhere else. Every bomb shelter is vacant, then the epic final fight begins. 

OG samurai dudes are leaping off their roofs with kitanas, entire dojos are emptying out full of ninjas, a multi-international Delta Force parachutes in and plants C4 charges on the Kaiju's back and detonates. The zookeepers let all the animals out of the zoo and jaguars and pandas are fighting side by side. Ron Perlman's henchmen army are using chemical weapons. It's a collective battle with Jaegers both kicking ass and aiding the little people. It's kind of like that ridiculous scene in Pearl Harbor where they shoot down planes with shot guns, but way cooler. People die, heroes are made, it's awesome, it's tragic, and most of all it's EPPPICCC. 

Down goes Idris Elba and Warlow from True Blood.  They're dying inside the Jaeger, they've lost power, citizens are jumping inside the busted Jaeger helping them, trying to get the power back on. It's not looking good though. The Kaiju is too big too strong.  Then a massive roar echoes through the city...

Another giant Stage 5 Kaiju comes out of the ocean.  It's heading for the city, the humans are doubting themselves, which sucks. The Stage 5 leaps out of the ocean and....SMASHES into the other Kaiju, what? We cut probably guessed it, the two nerdy scientists, who have drifted with the Kaiju and are now controlling it.   Yeah I know they say they wanted to save this for the sequel, but c'mon, GO BIG or go extinct, and extinct is called your movie not making enough money for a sequel. 

You see besides the fact that embracing the nerds as heroes is COMPLETE audience wish fulfillment and a great metaphor for geek power, it would be so FUN to see what the nerds can do considering they're not fighters. Oh what you wanted the psycho meathead jocks who are hot-heads to be your heroes? What? Seriously? Let the nerds kick-ass instead of being bumbling idiots who make a small discovery related to the plot. . Anyway where were we? Yes, Charlie Day and the weirdo german nerdo are controlling their Kaiju who they call Betty and kicking ass, it's like in the end of District 9 where Wickus has no idea how to use the Mech but is still just destroying everyone. Gypsy Danger is on the action as well. It's like a WWF Tag Team fight, and the nerds and the Gypsy Danger are The Hardy Boys/Dudley Boys. 

Together they turn the tide on massive Kaiju demon and administer a sick double fatality where they impale it on the Tokyo Sky Tree / Space Needle and then rip it in half together. The movie needed more fatality like kills based around the environment. Also more one liners like the "no pulse" line. Did I say the one liner that they drop, no, good, because it's either a very meta "Stick Around" or something simple more nerdy like "You're extinct!"

But they still need to close the rift/drift/ I can't remember what it's called, so of course, dying Idris Elbra manages to get his old Jaeger working and volunteers to take the bomb a la Mason in 24. Of course with Prometheus, this makes two movies in consecutive summers he goes out on a glorious suicide mission to save the planet, but hey, it's a good way to go. Yeah yeah yeah he gets his tearful goodbye to Mako and tells Jax Teller that he's gotta fight for the future and be excellent to each other, you know the drill. 

The movie ends with Charlie Day and The Nerd having a pet/warrior Kaiju that they joke about domesticating. It's kind of like the Donkey/Dragon romance in Shrek. The rift is closed and life is good. The Aussie rugby player hot head celebrity dude survives and re-connects with his Pops and his bulldog, why was the bulldog in the movie. Actually the dog was in there so he could eat a piece of Kaiju and then burp/fart to close out the film. Fun (the band) starts to play on the soundtrack in a overly produced cover of Monster Mash. 

But wait........

Post Credits Tease: One year later, a distress beacon signal comes through the rift. It's coming from a jaeger? We cut down to the alien world where Idris is still alive and has gone Full Rambo surviving in the alien world. He looks up toward the rift and says I hope that worked.....

June 9, 2013

TPG's Game Time - Season 3 - Episode 10 - Mysha (Game of Thrones Recap)

And now my watch begins. No, I'm not talking about part of the oath that Samwell uttered tonight, I'm talking about the long wait in front us until the next Thrones season sometime in 2014. Waiting for this show to come back is worse than being roasted by a dragon and I'm not looking forward to it, but in the meantime we have some topics to cover. What do you say we break the wax seal and check out the season finale of the third season of Thrones? And since I don't get to do this again for a long time, I won't just stop at 10 points.

Direwolf Badassery - 3 points - Now this may be controversial but if your pet is so badass that people put it on your corpse in celebration, then you have to have some type of pretty badass pet. RIP Grey Wind. But damn, that shot was a real brutal reminder of the damaging events of last week! Also, props to Ghost for getting some quality screen time. Too bad he wasn't protecting Jon Snow from getting pin-cushioned.

Joffrey Swag - 5 points - Seeing him prance into the small chamber room full of glee and bad vibes was the finest Joffrey Swag moment of the season. He is so evil, so stupid, and so good at talking shit that no one hears. Praise Joffrey.

1. Sansa pointed out that Tyrion is a pervert, well I think we all know that whatever Podrick Payne is up to with those wenches is something potentially very perverted.

2. Tywin points out that "A good man does everything to better his family, regardless of his selfish ambitions." This piece of wisdom is interesting when viewing the events of the season. Obviously Robb Stark put love over family when he married Talisa and I'm not going to link to last week but we know how that turned out. Jon Snow on the other hand put his family (in this case The Night's Watch) first over his love, no matter how painful it was. And finally a case could be made that Jaime Lannister chose kindness and compassion over family when he went back to save She-Man.

3. Hodor yelling into into the well was so good that next season I will be counting Hodors.

4. For someone who we haven't seen all season, Yara's big speech about going to save her brother with "the fastest ship & 50 of the best killers," was an episode highlight. I cannot wait to see more of her next season. Future badass alert!

5. My question last week was answered, The Blackfish escaped! I'm looking forward to many things next season but seeing the Blackfish aka the best archer in the game right now wage a war of vengeance will be a highlight.

6. So the great mystery of who was tormenting Theon Greyjoy is answered. It was Roose Bolton's son. Ehhh not as huge as a revelation considering all the brutal torture scenes. The only big revelation out of this is seeing this demented duo get theirs is going to be a future highlight of the show. What an evil, twisted family.

7. So Bran and his posse are going beyond the wall to keep searching for the three eyed raven and other magical creatures that Bran believes in. I do not know what his future holds but based off his mind control and vision quests, I'm sure it will be rooted in the more magical elements of the show.

8. I'd like to point out that of all the different ways you can lose your virginity, doing it with a super hot MILF witch while surrounded by flames and leeches is a real way to start things off. Gendry has either a life of therapy or glory ahead of him. No middle ground.

9. MIND MELT WITH A SIDE OF STALE BREAD - Two episodes ago Stannis dropped three leeches into the flames. They were for the three usurpers: Joffrey, Robb, and Balon Grejoy. Now one of them is dead, Joffrey angering both the Starks and Papa Lannister, and Balon losing control of his children, I wonder if that prophecy will come true.

10. It's no secret that I love Arya Stark and her first "real" kill, a brutal stabbing of some soldiers who were talking smack about her family was epic. But the real question, did she use a dagger because The Hound had her sword Needle or has the Needle gone missing?

11. Sure, Samwell killing a white walker was awesome, but it seemed kind of accidental. However Sam standing up to Maester Aemon felt like his first true act of courage because he was able to believe in himself and the power of his oath. True understanding. Knowledge is power and speaking of that....

12 REAAADDDDDINNNG RAINBOW - If Ser Davos hadn't learned the magic power of reading he never would been able to tell Stannis about the dire situation at the wall. It was through the magic of reading that he could finally defeat the Red Witch, get his friend back, and gain control of an army. Give it up for reading!

13. So the season ended with Khaleesi getting her humanitarian on and crowd surfing a throng of slaves while they called her Mysha (mother). YAAAAAWWWWNNNNNN. We've already seen her liberate a city of impoverished people before and the spear stomps of the Unsullied was much cooler than this medieval world music rave scene. I love Khaleesi but she needs to stop this whole city sacking routine and get her ass to King's Landing and start taking what is hers!

14. Bonus guest thought longtime This LA Life reader Z.Cash Hat
Everybody's got theirtheories on how shit's going to go down past the completed books. Given that it's a Song of Fire and & Ice, many of us have assumed it was gonna be up to Dani with her dragons and Jon Snow to regulate on those White Walkers.  I think tonight's finale made a strong symbolic gesture toward their intertwined fates.  Jon being hoisted up and carried inside by the Night's Watch looked very Christ-like to this Jew, and before they started crowd surfing her around, Dani's initialpose was pretty similar.  Future Fire Queen and Ice King as Jesus-like
saviors?  I'm hoping that's the case.
Holy Cow that's a crazy theory, and what a great one to go out on!

Let us hope that the next season has even more of the "Dragons & Magic" that Stannis spoke of tonight. It's been great writing this recap for you guys. Thanks for reading. Stay tuned for the return of my Breaking Bad recaps "TPG's Chemistry Class!"

June 2, 2013

TPG's Game Time - Season 3 - Episode 9 - The Rain Of Castamere (Game of Thrones Recap)

RIP Robb Stark, the King in The North, a loyal son, loving husband, good brother and holy shit I can't believe that just happened. Wow! God dayuuuummmmmmmm. No other show in the history of TV shows that I have seen has ever done a major character and fan favorite in like that. The girls I was watching the episode with had tears in their eyes, so to make it up to you I've included the above gif as an apology, but shit, that was insane. 

Direwolf Baddassery: 6 Points! If a direwolf rips someone's throat out but is being controlled via mind link, does it still count? I'll side with the general school of thought that it certainly does! So yeah, that scene of direwolves just wrecking people with Bran was incredible. Let me also give a big shoutout to Grey Wind---RIP. That shot of his eyes closing was just brutal. Also, lots of epic points to Grey Wind for sensing what was going down before it actually did.

Joffrey Swag: None.

1. I knew it was coming. Earlier this year I typed "Robb Stark" into google so I could find an image for a post and the suggested search term was "Robb Stark Dies." I was pissed when I found out (Damn you Google!!!) but that didn't make tonight any less shocking. The baby stabbing of Talisa was beyond brutal and and the endless crossbow assault was insane. Thrones did mass execution last year with the Warlocks, but this made that look tame in comparison. Serious props to the creators for closing it out with Lady Catelyn slitting the young girl's throat and airing the credits sans-music. Chilling.

2. Now that we've got the shock out of our system let's go over some quick facts and questions. Speed round, let's go:
  • The Blackfish went outside to "find a tree." Was he in on it? Did he betray the Starks and his own nephew? Doubtful I think. If he didn't betray them, is he dead?
  • Is Edmure Tully, aka the dude who made out well with the bride dead?
  • This had to be what Tywin was writing letters about in the earlier episodes this season right?
3. Damn I'm still reeling from the darkness, but how funny was that opening scene. I knew Lord Frey was a dirt bag, but I didn't know he was so funny. Not knowing the names of the girls, commenting on Talisa, saying that he "always sees beneath the dress," and just talking like a 20 year old bro in a repulsive body, what a zany old demonic maniac.

4. While everyone is talking about the events of the reception, this episode was also especially crazy for Jon Snow and Bran Stark. On the Snow front he finally got to fighting again, thank God, and bro, what are you doing riding out on your girl like that? Nice that he diced up that Warg, though. That dude sucked. 

5. So Bran is now some kind of super Warg? Jojen pointed out that no one can get inside people's heads like Bran showed he could tonight. With each season more and more magic is seeping into this show. Keep in mind that in the first season there is barely any magic outside of the white walkers. Now we have shadow assassins, shape shifters, dragons, mind controllers, giants, magic healing powers, white walker kryptonite, and who knows what else is coming down the pipe. I'm calling it now. Bran is going to end up being VERY important to the entire story.

6. Shout out to the man, lil Rickon Stark (Art Parkinson), who has never really done anything in the past seasons, but tonight delivers a sneak attack of an emotional scene where he doesn't want to leave his brother. This scene is even more effective when you consider that him and Bran are the only Stark men left! Rickon also scores points for having the dopely named Direwolf - Shaggydog  (does Rickon have a future as a phish head?)

7. That fight scene where Ser Jorah (da legend!), Grey Worm, and Daario (or is it Daria?) were just wrecking dudes was some of the coolest fighting the show has ever done. It even included some type of tag-team Mortal Kombat fatality, which was off the chain. That being said, this Daario dude is cheesy as hell, get a hair cut bro. I have a hunch he's going to be around for a long time cause Khaleesi obviously sees him as Drogo 2.0. And let's  be clear about this, this dude is more like Fabio than Khal flipping Drogo. Khal Drogo ripped dude's tongues through their throats, this guy uses conditioner and fights with a scimitar, big difference . 

8. When all is said and done, Arya Stark is going to be become the most badass character in the history of the show. If you watched "The Wire" she will be the "Omar" of the show. If you watched "Lost" she will be the "Desmond." Her destiny is vengeance and it's a long journey to get there littered with corpses of her enemes. I cannot wait till her first meaningful kill. That being said as my buddy pointed out The Hound really is making a habit out of saving Stark girls.

9. Not a single Lannister on screen tonight, yet their presence was felt. Next week in the finale, I expect we'll get a heavy dosage of Kings Landing plot lines.  I hope that Tyrion will do something heroic beyond just courageously getting drunk and passing out.

10. There is only one episode left this season and the finale's of this show are always exceptional. I wonder if they'll be able to top last seasons epic Valar Morghullis scene (featured below.) Also because I appreciate all my readers I just want you to know, in this very moment, start mentally preparing for the long wait after Sunday. 

May 27, 2013

5 Actors Who Could Play The Villain in Fast & Furious 8

By now most people know that, at the end of the excellent Fast & Furious 6, Jason Statham is introduced as bad guy for the next film. This is fantastic instant attendance news for fans and I literally am already thinking of all the different ways Vin Diesel will make fun of Statham for being British, not valuing family, and for drinking Newkie Brown instead of Corona. But with The Rock getting introduced in Fast 5, Statham introduced in Fast 6, who will they introduce in Fast 7 to make Fast 8 a must-see film. There is no such thing as too much planning, and you'd be foolish to think The Fast Gods are not cooking this up you read this. And while I know these casting questions keep you up at night, I've chosen to help you our and hit you with a list of actors who I think would fit right into the best franchise on four wheels.

Liam Neeson
Who He Would Play: Uh, this one is a no brain  brainer, he would play the father of Statham and he would be seeking vengeance on the crew that killed his sons. His particular set of skills versus the set of skills of the Fast Gang. Yes please.
Why He Would Do It: Once considered a serious actor, he know almost exclusively appears in mindless action thrillers, where I'm sure he collects a sizable paycheck. And with the Fast & Furious franchise printing money still, there is no monetary reason they wouldn't pay him.

Mark Wahlberg
Who He Would Play - A maniac Boston cop who Paul Walker used to bust bad guys with. No Walker has no choice but to take him down... In recent years Wahlberg has proven himself to be an ass-kicker, but no role has exceeded his Officer Dignam from "The Departed." Picture that a bad guy.
Why He Would Do It - With star turns in "Contraband," "Ted," and the upcoming "2 Guns" Wahlberg has become something of Universal's Go-To tough guy, so it would be easy to slot him to their top of the line action franchise. Besides he took the lead in the new "Transformers" so he clearly has no problem jumping into franchises at any point.

Eva Mendes
Who She'd Play: Even though she appeared in the tail end of "Fast Five" Mendes' cop character Monica Fuentes was nowhere to be seen in "Fast Six." I could see her coming back in some disgraced cop seeking vengeance against Hobbs role. It would tie the story together oh so nicely.
Why She'd Do It: What reason would she have to pass up a chance to be the main villain in this franchise? Seriously?

Halle Berry
Who She'd Play: Some type of international criminal who the gang have to take down. I've always wanted the franchise tackle more exotic locations (Southeast Asia, Africa, The Rings of Saturn) so with her exotic looks, I think she could fit right in.
Why She'd Do It: Berry's name recognition is pretty strong with audiences, yet her choices in movies have been weak at best. A big role in the franchise could revitalize her career and position as kind of the female Liam Neeson -  a slightly older ass kicker.

Martin Lawrence
Who He'd Play: A very dangerous and powerful LA drug kingpin with connections to everyone. Sooner or later the franchise is going to have to return home to the streets of LA and I could see Lawrence ripping it up as hilarious but totally evil bad guy. Besides you know any scenes he had with Tyrese & Ludacris would be hilarious, that duo has been bringing the laughs for the last three films!
Why He'd Do It: I like to think a chance to play a bad guy would interest him.

Honorable Mentions: There are many big time actors just jump into the ultimate summer popcorn franchise, but I doubt they'd do it. This list includes Leonardo DiCaprio, Denzel Washington, Daniel Day Lewis (yes seriously, pure intensity), Robert Downey Jr., Gary Oldman, and Alan Rickman all come to mind.

What About?: Ahh, I knew you'd ask. As much as I love them Arnold, Stallone, Van Damme, and even Willis are just too old/dated to fit into this franchise. Let's keep them locked into the Expendables purgatory.

May 25, 2013

Fast & Furious 6 Excels With No Super-Powers

In the last couple years, the biggest movies on top of both the box office and the general world of major studio films involve cosmic cubes, super soldiers, robotic armies, British mouth breathers, elves, child warriors, and vampire-werewolf super babies. Yet in this ocean of action and explosions, The Fast & Furious franchise stands alone as the carrier of the torch for good ol' fashioned mortal human action. And while the characters may appear to be super-human (The Rock is gigantic, Paul Walker doesn't age, and Diesel is um, named Vin Diesel) they are actually just many in a long line of tough guys making tough stuff look cool on the movie screen. 

The plot of the newest film involves the crew teaming up with their former nemesis Ellis Hobbs (The Rock) to take down British super-villain Owen Shaw (Luke Evans). Shaw has a crew of his own and they are the opposite of our heroic crew who loves newborn infants, saying grace, and drinking coronas. So naturally the two posses don't get along and because of that they frequently battle each other  with guns, fists, headbutts, spear-guns, body slams, and as one character puts it "vehicular warfare!" One of the most enjoyable things about the new movie is how it returns to the franchise's roots with a huge amount of actual car chases, not just the heists of Fast Five. Director Justin Lin is a master of knowing where to put the camera to make every chase make spacial sense and has evolved into a mastermind of combining practical stunt driving with fist pumping visual effects spectacle. They say that with Superman you'll believe a man can fly...well in Fast & Furious 6 you'll believe a F-1 race car can flip cars like a spatula and make them ross through posh office buildings. 

Yes the action is fantastic, but at that point that is to be expected. What really makes the franchise and this film work so well are the...wait for it...emotions that run through the story. Emotions? TPG you are crazy man, I thought this was about vehicular warfare? It is, it is but hear me out. While other movies layer their emotions like some type of exotic French dessert, the Fast & Furious franchise puts them right out there. I LOVE YOU AND WANT TO SETTLE DOWN WITH YOU! MY FAMILY IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING. I AM GOING TO DESTROY YOU! Yes, it's very very easy to digest, but there is something immensely delicious about characters existing in black and whites. Good guys vs Bad Guys. Fast Car vs Not Fast Car. If only life could be that way, right?

So yeah...incredible super-hero free action, heavy handed emotions, expert direction, what else is there to say? Oh, one last thing, the movie gives you EXACTLY what you want. Not many times in movies/life do you get exactly what you want, but in this movie it's all there. Oh I hope that that huge german dude ends up fighting the Rock, happens. Oh I hope that Tank our boys are fighting goes out spectacularly ..yupp (still thinking about it actually).  Oh I hope that that grappling hook gun is put to good use, happens in every way you can imagine. Oh Ludacris & Tyrese are funny, they get the best zingers. Fast & Furious 6 knows what you want and gives it to you which is extremely commendable. And just when the movie is over it leaves you with a massive cliffhanger that instantly clicks in your cinematic soul and feels you with a sense of..."Oh...I didn't know that I needed THAT in this franchise...but know that you have given me what I actually wanted....I'll have an another order please*. 

*Fast 7 comes out July 11th 2014