Monthly Archives: February 2013

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance ~ I’m in the minority. I’m one of the few people on Earth, other than Nicholas Cage, who liked the first Ghost Rider movie. There are folks who hate Cage, folks who disliked the mixing and matching of different Riders in it, and the campiness of it. I thought it worked. There was an earnestness that I liked, and honestly I’m not that well versed in GR continuity to argue those points. But I liked it.

When I heard Cage was making another one, I was pleased and couldn’t wait to see it. I mean, really, how bad could it be? Now months later I finally get to see it on DVD. Wow. I was wrong.

There are moments of animation throughout that have promise, but they are only moments and soon replaced by the plodding terrible acting of Cage and the rest of the cast. He can be good, but here he’s just phoning it in, long distance from a bad cell. Wow. Even terrific actors like Idris Elba and okay actors like Christopher Lambert are pulled down into this vortex of stink.

Even the special effect of a skull on fire is done badly here. Visually at least, this should have been as stunning as the first. The script is by David S. Goyer, so this is another craptacular for him to notch on his belt. When he’s good, he’s good, but when Goyer is bad… man oh man, is he bad. Avoid this flick.

French Fry Diary 466: Pringles Cinnamon & Sugar

HBO Digitals

I love HBO Go, absolutely love it. Since I installed it in my iPhone, I have watched the entire runs of “Big Love,” “Deadwood,” and “Oz,” all awesome television in their own right. Recently, while exploring HBO Go, I found a section hidden off in the Comedy category called HBO Digitals. These are mini-shows, could-have-beens I guess. There are four, and they are really something special. I would almost want to watch these mini-series than some of the real stuff that does make it to ‘real’ TV.

“Garfunkel and Oates”

If you’ve seen this terrific musical comedy duo, you know what to expect. I love them. They are sly and funny, and even better in their own three to five minute mini-episodes. The episodes are more or less frameworks for their songs, but still, damn funny. Oh, and sooo not work or family safe.


“The Boring Life of Jacqueline”

The opening episode is a test in cringe – how long will you hold out? Yes, when they say boring, they mean boooring. It is almost like a dare gone too far, or a staring contest. If you get past the first episode, it’s worth it. The show does kick in eventually and becomes a rather disturbing picture of a lonely but pitiful, and suicidal sociopath. Jaclyn Jonet plays an out of work actress obsessed with the building maintenance man. Don’t let the description or first episode scare you off, this is wonderful and subtle brilliance from Mike White, and deserves a spot on HBO’s regular line-up.

“Brody Stevens: Enjoy It”

This one is about BS, a comedian, manic depressive, compulsive Twitterer, performance artist, stalker, baseball player, and god knows what else. You might know him from “Chelsea Lately,” or the Hangover movies. I don’t really know what this program is about, besides Brody Stevens wrecking his life, even after a half-dozen episodes, and I like that about it. He’s abrasive, specializes again in cringe humor, has animation, and always surprises. Co-produced, co-written, and co-starring Zach Galifianakis. It’s fun, not for everyone, but fun.

“Single Long”

At first this seemed like a failed hipster/slacker sitcom about a dating site, but eventually it turns into a sweet love story between two reluctant friends. Like “Jacqueline,” it takes a while to kick in, but it’s well worth it. The show is fully saved by the charisma of spunky Sarra Jahedi. I just can’t get enough of her. All great finds on the iPhone with HBO Go.

French Fry Diary 465: Coney Island 2013

Arrow: Dodger

Lots of stuff going on in this episode, even though it seems a bit like a fill-in issue from the comics. First and foremost there’s a new baddie in town, the Dodger, who uses hostages to do his dirty work in robberies. Basically if the hostage doesn’t do what he says, he blows their head off by remote control. He also has a nifty taser stick similar to the old TV Green Hornet’s Hornet Sting. For the record, Dodger is a minor Green Arrow villain from the comics, notably affiliated with the League of Assassins – the group headed by Ras al Ghul over in the Batman universe.

Also thrown in for good measure is Moira meeting with an old family friend named Frank who I suspect could be China White’s father. Whatever the folks on The List are up to, it’s coming soon, and the writers have given it a name – The Undertaking. Supposedly, according to Moira at least, it started as a way to help the Glades, the dilapidated area of Starling City where the ‘Arrowcave’ is.

Then there’s also the grumbling fit Felicity has made on the Arrow team. For a temporary member, all she seems to be doing is causing trouble. She not only interferes with tactics in pursuing The List, she makes Diggle ask out his widowed sister-in-law Carly from Big Belly Burger, and Oliver ask out the beautiful Detective McKenna Hall from a few episodes back. Felicity has some kind of pull, eh? Neither date goes very well, sadly, at first at least.

And then, yeah, then there’s the kid in the red hood. He steals Thea’s purse while she’s walking with Laurel. His name? Yeah, you guessed it. Who else would be wearing red in a show about Green Arrow? His name is Roy Harper.

For those who read the comics, Roy Harper was Oliver Queen’s ward, Green Arrow’s sidekick in red, and the first hero to go by the name Speedy. He later became addicted to heroin, which Black Canary (Laurel in the show) helped him kick. He was later known as Arsenal and then Red Arrow when he took his mentor’s place in the Justice League. Just for the record, Green Arrow later trained a second Speedy – her name was Mia Dearborn. “Arrow” has a close counterpart in Oliver’s sister Thea Dearborn Queen.

The TV version of Roy Harper survives on petty theft, neglected by his parents. In a switch, mom is addicted to Vertigo, and dad is dead, buried in Norris Cemetery, a nod to Paul Norris, the artist who co-created Speedy back in 1941 with writer Mort Weisinger. Other comics call outs this episode include the corner of Adams and O’Neil, the writer/artist team that brought us the award winning Green Lantern/Green Arrow series in the early 1970s.

Apparently the Starling City Police, except McKenna, but Lance is included, are a lot like the old Philly cops or Gotham’s cops. They have lots of ammo and don’t give a crap about property damage. When they try to ambush the Dodger, they just open fire on an illegal fence’s warehouse like they were in a Rambo movie. Who knows what kind of priceless antiquities were destroyed forever?

Emily Bett Rickards cleans up really nice as Felicity later in the episode when the Dodger turns her into a human bomb. I’d like to see her like this more often. As a bombshell that is, not as a bomb. And as far as bombshells go – our cliffhanger this episode? Moira has hired China White to take out Merlyn. Oh yeah, this is going to be bad… for everyone…

French Fry Diary 464: Olive Garden

My Oscar Picks 2013

My opinion really doesn’t count for all that much this year as some personal issues have kept me from seeing many of the films this year, but folks expect to see my picks, so this year, I will choose by instinct and odds rather than any educated guesses. I still might get lucky. Here you go…

  • Best animated feature – Brave
  • Best animated short film – Paperman
  • Best visual effects – Marvel’s The Avengers
  • Best original screenplay – Django Unchained
  • Best original score, and song – Skyfall
  • Best costume design – Snow White and the Huntsman
  • Best direction – Steven Spielberg for Lincoln
  • Best supporting actress – Sally Field for Lincoln
  • Best supporting actor – Christoph Waltz for Django Unchained
  • Best actress – Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook
  • Best actor – Denzel Washington for Flight
  • Best picture – Silver Linings Playbook
  • Yep, that’s right. I’m predicting a complete shut out for Le Miz. Nothing against the flick, but that’s just how it played out as I picked category by category.

    What do you folks think?

    Silver Linings Playbook

    Silver Linings Playbook ~ You might have noticed its been quite a while since I posted about any movies currently in theaters. Well, it’s been a while since I’ve been out to a movie. Tonight, after dinner with good friends we haven’t seen in a while, we decided to hit a flick last minute. I wanted Die Hard or The Hobbit, but the ladies settled on multiple Oscar nom rom com drama Silver Linings Playbook.

    What a pleasant surprise. I didn’t know all that much about it beyond the noms for best picture, best actor Bradley Cooper, best actress Jennifer Lawrence, best supportings Robert DeNiro and Jacki Weaver, and best director David O. Russell. Surprisingly all of the noms are well deserved, some might not win, but all well deserved.

    Based on the book “The Silver Linings Playbook” by local teacher turned novelist Matthew Quick. That alone lends credibility to the locale of the flick – Philadelphia, as well as the passion for Eagles football so important to the story. That story has bi-polar Patrick (Cooper) trying to repair his life and get his wife back, even though she’s moved on while he was in a mental hospital. Enter Tiffany (Lawrence) widowed and equally flawed, trying to get him back on his feet.

    Cooper and Lawrence are no strangers to Oscar, and recently she has gained serious genre cred as Catniss and young Mystique. I think Jennifer Lawrence’s best years are ahead of her, and right now she’s better than most other actresses her age. I loved her here. DeNiro and Weaver are just as good as Cooper’s parents. The whole film is full of terrific performances, including Julia Stiles, Shea Whigham of “Boardwalk Empire,” Anupam Kher, and believe it or not, a completely non-annoying Chris Tucker.

    This was a great flick, I definitely see a couple (at least) Oscars coming its way this weekend, but let’s face it. It’s no Die Hard. 😉

    Random Tater Pic of the Day #89

    Vogues of 1938

    Vogues of 1938 ~ Regular readers of this blog know I love “Dark Shadows” – the TV series, not last summer’s Johnny Depp vehicle. Well, when I saw this movie listed, starring Joan Bennett, DS’ Elizabeth Collins Stoddard, the Collins family matriarch. I know she had a serious film career before DS, over seventy movies, but I’d never seen any, that I know of, so I had to check this out.

    Walter Wanger’s Vogues of 1938 is a lavish color musical that also stars Warren Baxter as the male lead opposite Bennett. She’s a socialite who becomes a model after a failed marriage. The sets and costumes are terrific for the time, and the print is crisp and bright.

    The movie is clever and snappy, like most from the decade. The story is weak, but plays second to the terrific musical numbers and the visuals so it’s okay. The worst part is …Joan Bennett! She’s stiff, fake, and unappealing. Literally everything works on this flick except her. I’m glad she found her home finally in soap operas. Worth seeing, but be forewarned.